Saudi Arabian employer accused of chopping off Indian maid’s hand
Riyadh: An Indian maid
has claimed her employer in Saudi Arabia cut off her hand in punishment for
poor work, after months of mistreatment in the kingdom. Kashturi Munirathinam,
55, is being treated in a hospital in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, her family
told Indian media.
to Saudi Arabia from her home in a rural district of the southern Indian state
of Tamil Nadu three months ago to take up a job as a cleaner in a household in
the eastern city of Dammam and then in Riyadh. She was to be paid about £150 a
“When she tried to
escape harassment and torture, her right hand was chopped off by the woman
employer. She fell down and sustained serious spinal injuries,” her sister, S
Vijayakumari, told local media.
“The incident happened after … she complained
about torture and non-payment of wages by her employer. Some neighbours and
others took her to hospital,” relatives told the Indian Express newspaper. “She
has now been hospitalised in Riyadh and is in a serious condition, our appeal
is please bring her back home immediately and help in her treatment.”
The woman is believed
to have suffered spinal injuries in a fall from a balcony. In a video
apparently filmed in hospital and uploaded to the internet, she describes the
attack and her attempt to flee.
Sushma Swaraj, the
Indian foreign minister, issued a statement on Friday about what she called the
“chopping of hand of Indian lady”. “We are very much disturbed over the brutal
manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” the statement,
on Twitter, said.
Last month, Indian
authorities protested after a Saudi diplomat accused of raping two Nepalese
nationals in an apartment on the outskirts of the Indian capital left the
country citing diplomatic immunity.
There has been no
immediate response from Saudi authorities to the latest claim. Indian diplomats
said they were liaising with Saudi authorities and had asked for “strict action
and severe punishment of the [employer]”.
Millions of migrant
workers travel to Saudi Arabia, where most perform menial tasks or physically
demanding jobs in sectors such as construction. Most come from poor backgrounds
in south or south-east Asia.
The foreign workforce
in Saudi Arabia includes hundreds of thousands of male drivers, needed
primarily because women in the kingdom are not permitted to drive.
One major problem
facing migrant workers in Saudi Arabia is the sponsorship system, which in
effect means a domestic worker cannot leave the country without the consent of
their employer. Campaigners say this leads to widespread abuse, and conditions
close to slavery.
surrender their passports to agents or employers and are fearful of local
authorities. Reports of abuse by employers are frequent, though authorities
have made efforts to improve protection in Saudi Arabia.