Friday, August 27, 2010

Nails Removed from tortured Sri Lankan Maid

August 27, 2010

Doctors have removed 13 nails and five needles from a Sri Lankan housemaid who said her employer in Saudi Arabia hammered them into her body.

LP Ariyawathie, 49, told staff at Kamburupitiya Hospital her employer inflicted the injuries as a punishment.

X-rays showed that there were 24 nails and needles in her body. Doctors said those remaining inside her body posed no immediate threat to her life.

The nails were up to 2in (5cm) long, a hospital official said.

"The surgery is successful and she is recovering now," Dr Satharasinghe said, according to news agency Associated Press.

Ms Ariyawathie, a mother of three, underwent a three-hour procedure.

Doctors said they would carry out further surgery later to remove the remaining nails.

'Deeply traumatised'

Ms Ariyawathie travelled to Saudi Arabia in March to become a housemaid.

Last week, she flew back to Sri Lanka and was admitted to hospital in the south of the island, where she told doctors she had undergone abuse for more than a month.

The doctors found 24 metal pieces in her legs and hands.

She could not sit down or walk properly, doctors said.

They said Ms Ariyawathie was deeply traumatised and unable to give full details of her experience.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities have launched an investigation.

"We have launched a strong protest with the Saudi government through the external affairs minister, but there has been no response yet," Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of Bureau for Foreign Employment, told the BBC.

Around 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, 70% of whom are women.

Most work as housemaids in the Middle East, while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Maids Abuse Case Hits Saudi Arabia

August 27, 2010

A Sri Lankan woman working as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia says she has been severely abused for complaining about being overworked.

LT Ariyawathi's Saudi employers reportedly hammered 24 nails and needles into her hands, legs and forehead, which had to be removed later with surgery.

Sri Lanka's government says it will report the incident to Saudi authorities.

Al Jazeera's Laura Kyle reports on a case that rights organisations say is all too common.

Hussein Shobokshi, a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat, the pan-Arab daily, told Al Jazeera that this "kind of story triggers the talk and debate to improve labour laws in the country.

"It is an issue that has been discussed for quite some time now through the Sharia Council and Human Rights Commission.

"You will soon see the ministry of labour, the Shariah Council and the Human Rights Commission jointly activate important rules and regulations in order to prevent such incidents from occurring again and punishing people who are responsible for it.

"Nowadays you hear the cases being brought to justice, you hear the issues being put out in the media. This is a novelty; it had not been the case in the past."