Strongly condemning the assault on an Indian maid, whose hand was allegedly chopped off by her Saudi employer, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj described it as ‘unacceptable’.
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.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 9, 2015
This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities. — Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 9, 2015
Kashturi Munirathinam, 55, who has four children and an ailing husband, went to Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic help three months ago.
Her sister, Vijayakumari, said that she was informed that the incident happened on the night of September 29.
“It happened after she complained about torture and non-payment of wages by her employer. The employer chopped off her hand when she tried to escape from the house through the balcony.”
Munirathinam was taken to a hospital by neighbours, said Vijayakumari. She is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Riyadh.
This was the first time that Munirathinam went abroad for work.
She was promised a salary of Rs.15,000 from which the agent was to take his cut because he did not charge any advance, told Vijayakumari.
The Indian embassy officials, who visited her, spoke to her son who is a farmer in a village near Vellore, who told him that his mother had also suffered a spinal injury as she fell from the balcony.
“We cannot go there unless the government arranges for it, but the officials have promised the best treatment for her,” said Vijaykumari.
Reacting to the incident, Anil Nautiyal, first secretary (labour) at the Indian embassy in Riyadh, said the mission is pursuing the case with the Saudi Arabian ministry of foreign affairs.
“We have also sought an independent probe in the incident and urged that a case of attempted murder be lodged against the sponsor so that he is punished, if found guilty as per law”, he said.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family has sent representations to the state and Central governments to bring Munirathinam back from Saudi Arabia. DMK MP Kanimozhi has also sent a letter to Swaraj seeking her help.
In her letter to Swaraj, Kanimozhi said Munirathinam’s condition was deteriorating. “Steps should be taken to bring home Kasturi as soon as possible, I appeal on behalf of the victim’s family,” she wrote.
Saudi Arabia is home to millions of migrant workers, many from India, where they perform the most menial tasks or physically demanding jobs in sectors such as construction.
The Guardian notes that a 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.