Testimony of Alexandria Davis

Testimony Before the House Government Reform Committee


107th Congress, 2nd Session Washington, D.C
June 12, 2002

My name is Alexandria Davis. I was formerly known as Yasmeen Alexandria Shalhoub. My name no longer reflects my Saudi father’s last name as the result of the nightmare I experienced when I was held against my will in Saudi Arabia from June 1997 to April 7th 1999. I changed my name to try to help me forget what I had to endure in Saudi Arabia but it will be with me until I die.

At the time when I was kidnapped, I was an 11 year old, living in Miami with my mother and grandmother. I was attending Epiphany Catholic School in Miami and did what most girls do, I enjoyed swimming with my friends, jumping on the trampoline, roller blading, taking care of my pets, and I played soccer with a local YMCA team.

I attended church on Sundays as that was also part of my religious and schooling commitment

My father, Khalid Shalhoub and mother, Miriam Hernandez, had divorced when I was two years old. It was my father’s preference to reside in London and he visited me several times a year or I visited him in London during summer vacations.

My father broke state and federal laws in June 1997 when he lied to mother about where he was taking me for the summer and unilaterally decided to take me to Saudi Arabia.

He told me that I was only there to visit family members, however, towards the end of August, I started asking him about going home in order to begin my new school year.

I started to realize that my father was lying to me and became scared; scared that I would not see my family again and scared that this man I knew as my father began beating me every time I begged to go home or begged to speak to my mother.

I started having nightmares that lasted the entire time I was there. In Saudi Arabia, I was not allowed to go outside, not even to play. I was locked in the house alone while my Saudi family went out. I was constantly told by my father and his family that as a Christian I was going to hell and burn in the flames of hell. I would wake up during the night with visions of my mother and family members burning and screaming for help. I was not allowed to eat at the family table because I was Christian. Instead, my father and stepmother had me eat on the floor.

I did not understand why I was treated so badly. All I know is that my father and his family hated Christians and hated my American mother for wanting a divorce.

Even though phones were removed from the house and special things were done so that I could not use the phone, I managed to dial internationally and reach my mother. My phone calls were tapped by my father and stepmother and I was beaten every time they found out I made a secret call to the United States.

All throughout this time, my mother was in constant contact with the State Department and the American Embassy. She even sent letters to as many officials she could reach, and even to the President and First Lady. Along with letters, she sent tapes of my conversations with my mother where I was describing the physical and emotional abuse I was undergoing. There were times that I was scared to wake up in the morning because I knew I would get beaten. I’d like to share some excerpts the conversations I had with my mom that were taped and sent to the American Embassy in Riyadh and to numerous officials. No one paid any attention to my suffering.

My father would call me names such as fatso, donkey, stupid bitch and tell me he wished I would die and burn in the flames of hell.

I remember asking my mom if I could jump out of my father’s car and run to a policeman for help or take a taxi to the American Embassy. My mother warned me not to do that. She told me that not even the American Embassy would help. I could not understand why my country would let me down and not help me. I did not want to be there. I had no right to be there. Yet no one was willing to do anything about it.

I was lucky that my grandmother was able to sell her house and my family was able to raise $200,000 for my escape. I was putting myself in danger knowing that if my father caught me escaping he would beat me to death, I still risked it. I would have rather died than to have lived as a woman in Saudi Arabia.

I am sixteen years old now and just completed my sophomore year in high school. Sometimes I think that if I were not able to escape from Saudi Arabia I would be in a forced marriage to a second cousin and with several children.

Even though I have been back in the United States for three years now, I think about what happened to me all the time. I was one of the lucky ones, maybe the only American child that was able to escape from Saudi Arabia.

All I want to do now is to find a way to help other American children and women that have been kidnapped to Saudi Arabia get back home.