Seventeen girls had been treated as slaves in Brussels by the family of an emir from the United Arab Emirates.
The sheik's wife and her four daughters lived in Brussels for medical treatment and rented out an entire floor of the deluxe Conrad Hotel. The millions they paid are in sharp contrast to the measly sum that the girls earned for working 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
The Belgian police is now investigating for people smuggling, since the girls were recruited from various countries and had to leave their passport in the United Arab Emirates.
Belgian authorities can't do much against the sheik's wife since "we are not authorized to question royals," according to a spokesperson.
Last week a 32 year old Moroccan woman came to the police with a bizarre story. She said she had been exploited by the family of an emir from the United Arab Emirates. Her passport had been taken away. The emir's widow and her four daughters had been living for almost a year in the Conrad Hotel in Brussels, and the woman said she was not the only one who'd been exploited.
The Belgian Labor Auditor and the police raided the hotel yesterday, and it turns out that the Moroccan was telling the truth.
The widow of a rich sheik Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Nahyan had been living in the hotel for the past year, together with the four daughters-princesses: Shaima, Myriam, Maessa and Rawda. Since they didn't want anybody snooping around they paid for the entire fourth floor of with 53 rooms.
She and her daughters were used to giving orders. They had fourteen servant girls and three body guards, from the Philippines, Morocco, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The servant girls in particular were exploited. While mother Hmada, the princesses and their children lived in the most beautiful rooms the servant girls had to sleep in the corridor while many of the paid rooms stood empty for a possible visit.
According to the Moroccan who had managed to escape, they didn't get much sleep. At the most they got three hours per night. The rest of the day they had to be on stand by for the princesses. "They were demanding. their coffee addition typified them. There were crazy about hot coffee. But they abhorred saucers. Therefore you had to take the hot cup in your bare hands. The result: you easily got burned. But I couldn't go to the doctor. I didn't get permission for that."
The girls barely got anything to eat.
The woman says she couldn't leave the hotel without a guard. She got 500 euro a month, while other servant girls got even less: 150 euro. The highest earner got 700 euro.
The Moroccan had applied for the job in her homeland, but local politician Fouad Lahssaini (Ecolo) says they had deceived her. He worries about her fate now. Immediately after the raid on the hotel, she was called up by the recruiting service in Morocco, who wanted to manipulate her. She was terrified, since her parents still live in Morocco and her former bosses are extremely powerful.
The Conrad hotel manager Mark De Beer refused to say much about the Labor Auditor's visit, noting that they were completely unaware of what had been going on in the hotel. It wasn't their personnel, but those of their client.
The Moroccan woman claims that the hotel nevertheless knew very well that they were employed in abominable conditions. A ex-employee of the Conrad confirms that the hotel closed their eyes for their top customer. 'The fire alarm was turned off on their floor. Because the princesses were annoyed by that noise."
Nobody was yet arrested.
Sources: Telegraaf; Standaard (Dutch)