Authorities in India have urged Saudi Arabia to cooperate in an investigation into rape allegations made by two Nepali women against a diplomat from the Middle Eastern country. The incident has sparked a diplomatic row ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's planned visit later this year.
The women, who were employed as domestic workers at the diplomat’s residence, claimed they were starved and sexually abused by the official and other Saudi nationals. Police have reportedly registered a case of rape, sodomy and illegal confinement against the official, who has not been named. The diplomat’s wife and daughter were also booked for torturing the women. The official, who has diplomatic immunity, is in the Saudi Arabian embassy in India's capital New Delhi and the embassy has denied the charges.
India's foreign ministry on Thursday called in Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati and requested his embassy's cooperation "in the case of 2 Nepali citizens,” spokesman Vikas Swarup wrote on his Twitter account.
The women, aged 30 and 50, claimed that the alleged abuse took place over a span of several months at the diplomat’s apartment in Gurgaon, located on the outskirts of New Delhi.
"We thought we would die there," one of the alleged victims told Agence France-Presse. "The apartment was on the 10th and 12th floor, there was no way we could run. We were abused every day."
Women rights activists protested outside the Saudi embassy in New Delhi Thursday demanding the arrest of the accused diplomat.
No arrests have been made in the case because diplomats are granted immunity from arrest in the countries where they are posted under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. According to local media, unless diplomatic immunity is waived by the Saudi government, no charges can be filed against the accused diplomat.
The women, who were rescued from the house Monday after a local nonprofit alerted police, returned to Nepal Thursday. Thousands of women from Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, live and work in India and Middle Eastern nations as domestic workers.