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 Post subject: Sri Lankan maid brutally assaulted and treated inhumanely
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:57 am 
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Sri Lankan maid brutally assaulted and treated inhumanely

@ Asian Human Rights Commission
23 November 2004 / UA-160-2004


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about a Sri Lankan woman, Dodanwela Welikanda Keerthilatha, who was assaulted and inhumanely treated whilst she was a housemaid in Saudi Arabia for two years since September 2002.

While in Saudi Arabia, Keerthilatha was subjected to severe assault including having acid soaked cloth tied to her head, shoulders and chest, being beaten with a broom stick, and assaulted with wires. During her stay, she was also forced to work incredibly long hours and was punished if she did not carry out her tasks to the house mistress's approval. Upon her return to Sri Lanka, Keerthilatha had to undergo hospital treatment as she was found to have a fractured left wrist, swollen legs and feet from broom stick beatings, marks across her body from being hit with wiring and burns to her face and chest from an acid attack.

Keerthilatha lodged an official complaint with the Kandy Police Station on the day she returned to Sri Lanka, 27 October 2004. However, neither the police nor the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment has taken any action regarding this case.

Dodanwela Welikanda Keerthilatha migrated to Saudi Arabia on 10 September 2002 after having received employment as a housemaid through an agency called Amja Travels and Recruiting Agent, K/G/1, Gunasinghapura, Dias Place, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka.

For the first 14 months that Keerthilatha was in Saudi Arabia, her family had no communications with her. The family tried to contact her through the recruitment agency, but failed to do so. They made several telephone calls to the house where Keerthilatha was employed, but they were not allowed to speak to her. They were told each time that they called that Keerthilatha was not at home, or not available. Not until some time later did they finally make contact with Keerthilatha, at which point Keerthilatha told her family of the hardship she was enduring.

Keerthilatha told her family of the day to day struggles she was living. She had to rise every morning at 6:00am, and was often forced to work until 4 or 5 o'clock the following morning. Not until she had finished her entire day's work was she given the one and only meal that her employers provided her for the day. On several occasions, the mistress of the house, called Uja, would spit in Keerthilatha's food.
Keerthilatha continued to tell her family of the difficulties she faced. If she did not rise at exactly 6:00am, she would have soapy water poured over her body and was not allowed to change her wet clothes for the entire day. She worked solidly throughout the entire day, every day, and never had a minute to spare for herself. Keerthilatha became a prisoner in her employer's home. They burnt the clothes and a bag that she arrived with when first landing in Saudi Arabia. She was not allowed to write letters to her family or try and contact them in any other way. They burnt paper belonging to Keerthilatha which contained telephone numbers of her family back in Sri Lanka.

There were eight children in the house that Keerthilatha was employed by. She had to wash and iron all the clothes for the children and the two parents. The mistress and the eldest daughter, Sara, were very cruel to Keerthilatha, and even the other children, except the youngest, would often hit her.

One day the mistress of the house fabricated a story against Keerthilatha to her husband. In response, the husband beat Keerthilatha severely. During that beating, Keerthilatha's head was smashed against a wall, causing a cut to her forehead. However, the mistress and her husband did not provide any medical attention to her.

On another occasion, Keerthilatha was beaten on her back with a broom after she was accused of being too slow at her work. On yet another day, the mistress of the house accused Keerthilatha of being too slow in washing the clothes. As punishment, the mistress soaked a cloth in 'Clorox', a strong acidic detergent, and forced Keerthilatha to wrap it around her head, shoulders and chest. As a result of this, and the strong acid within the detergent, Keerthilatha suffered burns to her face, ears and chest and had blisters form all over her.

This cruel and inhumane treatment occurred for the entire two years that Keerthilatha worked for her employers in Saudi Arabia. She arrived back in Sri Lanka on 27 October 2004 in a state of unconsciousness, having travelled by aircraft from Saudi Arabia. Her physical condition on arrival was appalling - she had been assaulted with wires, her left wrist was fractured, her legs and feet were severely swollen from having been hit with a broom stick and her left ear was deformed from the acid attack she had received. Due to such condition, Keerthilatha underwent treatment at the National Hospital in Kandy.

DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of the victim: Dodanwela Welikanda Keerthilatha
Current address: 52/2B Iddhagodella, Mihidumawatte, Gonagaha
Alleged perpetrators: Mohomed Abdullah Al Zeyed, and wife Uja
Place of incident: Residence at Rodney Garden, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Period of incident: from 10 September 2002 to 27 October 2004
Recruitment agency used: Amja Travels and Recruitment Agent, K/G/1, Gunasinghapura, Dias Place, Combo 12, Sri Lanka


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