Kenyan Woman Claims Saudi Diplomats Held Her as Domestic Slave in Northern Virginia

A Kenyan woman, seen here in her international paperwork, claims to have been held as a domestic slave by Saudi diplomats in Virginia. (Photo: NBC Washington)

In early May, it was reported that two potential trafficking victims were rescued from a Saudi Arabian diplomatic compound in an upscale area of McLean, Virginia.  But since the residents apparently have diplomatic immunity, it seems little has been done to investigate or charge the alleged offenders.

Now, a 25-year-old woman from Kenya is claiming to have been held as a domestic slave for three months by Saudi Arabian diplomats in the same area, NBC Washington reports:

The Kenyan woman — who goes by the name Sheila — said she was brought to the U.S. from Kenya by way of Saudi Arabia last summer, by people who forced her to work long hours each day, seven days a week, as a domestic worker.

“I used to work from 6 in the morning to 8, 10 in the evening,” Sheila said by cell phone to News4′s Jackie Bensen. “From Monday to Monday.”

Did you ever have a day off? Bensen asked. “No,” Shelia replied.

Shelia said she was rescued with the help of a Fairfax County man, Marikio, whom she met on a Facebook community for Kenyans living in the D.C. area.

It was particularly difficult to help her, Marikio said, because she was not allowed to go outside and therefore had no idea where she was living.  Eventually, though, Sheila was able to escape from a Skyline Towers high-rise after discovering her address from a piece of mail.  When she emerged from the compound, Marikio said she looked gaunt, weak, and in obvious need of medical treatment.

Sheila was taken to the hospital, and police ordered the Saudis to return her paperwork after they allegedly tried to detain her when she returned for it in person.

Sheila now has an immigration attorney named Regina Njogu, who described the effort to get anything done as a game of “ping-pong,” where she is transferred from one person to another, though none seem particularly concerned that women are allegedly being held as slaves in Saudi compounds in Virginia.

Njogu said she spoke with the unidentified diplomat, describing the conversation: “When I told him what I was calling about, he said he doesn’t care, because he’s a diplomat nothing will happen to him.”

Watch NBC Washington’s entire report for more, below: