Allegations a Saudi prince “let his children spit in his maids’ faces” have emerged amid an investigation into claims he kept seven domestic staff like modern-day slaves at an apartment he owned outside Paris.
Earlier this week, French prosecutors said they were investigating claims that the Saudi royal kept seven employees in a state of slavery at a home he owned outside of Paris.
The women, most from the Philippines, went to the police after leaving the household and contacted SOS Esclaves, a French organisation that helps people in slave-like working conditions.
Anick Fougeroux, the group’s chairwoman, told The Times that the women would fly to France with the family of the prince every summer from their main home in Riyadh.
When in France they stayed in a residence in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, just west of Paris, and were expected to stay up until the prince and his wife went to sleep, which was often at 3am.
“If the princess wanted a drink at 3.10am, they were supposed to be on hand to give her one,” Fougeroux said.
“The trouble was that they were all expected to be up at 7am for the children whilst the prince and princess stayed in bed until midday.”
‘Hungry and often in tears’
She said one of the maids told her the children were authorised to spit in her face, while another said she was forced to sleep on the floor at the foot of the princess’s bed while the youngest child was a toddler, in order to tend to the child throughout the night and allow the princess to remain asleep.
Fougeroux said the Filipina employees ate the remains of the dishes cooked for the prince and his wife, which were left for them in the kitchen. Their employers would lock the kitchen outside of designated meal times. If they were called by their employers during those times, they would go hungry.
“They were hungry and often in tears because of that,” Fougeroux said.
The staff were also expected to meet the wishes of the prince’s four children and were monitored by video surveillance. If any child was seen to be crying, the nursemaid in charge would be slapped on both cheeks.
“If they took the children to the Jardin d’Acclimatation and the children wanted seven ice creams, they were supposed to buy seven ice creams for them. But if the child had a tummy ache when they got home, they would be in trouble,” the SOS Esclaves chairwoman said.
Under French law, the maximum sentence for the offence of modern slavery is ten years in prison. However, a police source told the newspaper that officers had been unable to question the prince because he had left France.
Le Parisien reported that the royal was understood to have a diplomatic passport, which would give him immunity from prosecution.
Human rights groups have often criticised Saudi Arabia’s kafala system, which ties migrant workers to one sponsor. They say it is a policy that is exploitative and a form of modern slavery
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