Sri Lanka limits maids working Saudi Arabia after beheading

Activists hold up a portrait of Rizana Nafeek, following her execution by Saudi authorities, Colombo, January 11, 2013.

Story highlights

  • Sri Lanka changes minimum age to 25 for maids to work in Saudi Arabia
  • The move comes after a Sri Lankan woman was beheaded in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi officials defended the execution saying the woman was lawfully convicted

Sri Lanka will limit the amount of women that go to Saudi Arabia to work as housemaids as outrage continues over Saudi Arabia's beheading of a Sri Lankan teen.

Officials this week raised the minimum age for female domestic workers so that no women under the age of 25 would be allowed to go to Saudi Arabia to work as a maid, said Keheliya Rambukwella, a government spokesman.

Read more: Why global labor reforms are vital to protect vulnerable workers

The move comes after the beheading of housemaid Rizana Nafeek that occurred earlier this month. Nafeek was 17 when a baby she was caring for in Saudi Arabia died. She was convicted of killing her employers' son in 2005. The family said she strangled the 4-month-old boy after being asked to bottle-feed him, but Nafeek said the infant accidentally choked on milk.

Human rights groups and the Sri Lankan government had lobbied for leniency in the case but on January 9 she was put to death.

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Read more: Saudi execution: Brutal, inhuman and illegal?

Saudi officials defended its action days after the execution.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia categorically rejects any interference in its affairs or in the provisions of its judiciary under any justifications," a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency read.

The statement went on to say complaints about the case "draw on false information about the case and are issued without full knowledge of the circumstances of the case itself."

The new rule also raised the minimum age of maids seeking to work in west Asian countries to 21.

Read more: Saudis defend Sri Lankan maid's execution, hit back at criticism

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