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 Post subject: Broken finger and wrist bone tell tale of torture
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:59 am 
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Broken finger and wrist bone tell tale of torture

Khaleej Times Online
By Meraj Rizvi
11 October 2004

DUBAI — A 35-year old, mother of three, Sri Lankan housemaid is a victim of her employers physical and mental abuse, resulting in her losing out a finger, and left distraught without any money and hopes of returning home.

S.M. Karunawathi, who arrived in Fujairah two and half years ago to work as a housemaid at a UAE national's home, was transferred within a few days to another home, a relative of her sponsor, to look after a family with 14 children.

"I was hired for a salary of Dh400, but never received the full salary in the last two years and eight months that I worked.

"So far, the employer, also a UAE national, has paid her a total of Dh1,000 in small sums of Dh100 or Dh200 after several pleas from Karunawathi. The money received was repatriated home in three installments," Karunawathi told reporters in Dubai yesterday.

Mentally disoriented after being repeatedly assaulted by her employer, she claimed that the new employer would beat her up daily and also broke her finger and wrist bone.

"I was in pain for nine months, but no medical help was extended to me. Instead the employer's wife rendered some home remedies to help the pain to subside. But, after suffering a broken finger and swollen wrist for nine months, I forced the employer's wife to take me to a doctor since the pain was unbearable and I could not carry out the household chores.

"The doctor at a Fujairah hospital on examination of my finger said it had to be amputated. And now, I am without a finger in my right hand," the housemaid said with tears in her eyes. Even after this torture and being physically assaulted by the man of the house, who she claimed was suffering from some sort of mental disorder, Karunawathi never informed her family in Sri Lanka about her plight.

"My husband is physically disabled and cannot work, and I have a son who suffers from polio and cannot walk," Karunawathi said, stating her miseries and sufferings would only add to more problems for her family back home. "And, one fine day, on the first opportunity available, I fled the home of my employer and reached Fujairah Immigration office to report my case. But, I was surprised to be taken into custody and was put behind bars for nine days".

She explained that her original sponsor, after transferring her over to his sister's home to work, had registered a complaint with the immigration authorities that the housemaid was absconding. Karunawathi said that on the ninth day, she was informed by the immigration authorities that somebody had left her airline tickets for Colombo. But, the official refrained from handing over her passport and instead advised to meet with her Consulate officials in Dubai who would help in her repatriation home.

Having arrived in Dubai three days ago, Karunawathi has, with the help of the Sri Lankan Consulate officials, running from pillar to post to contact the local sponsor and seek settlement of her dues and compensation for the injuries.

Sri Lankan Consul-General in Dubai, P.D Fernanado, told reporters that they had finally succeeded in meeting the original sponsor yesterday in Fujairah.

But, he has refused to pay her entire dues and repatriation expenses. He has only agreed to pay two months salary, Fernando disclosed, pointing out that Karunawathi was not happy with the paltry sum decided as final settlement at the immigration office in Fujairah yesterday.

"We will seek legal advice on the case, and if desired by Karunawathi, assist her in filing a case in the court against the original sponsor."

In the meantime, the Consulate will look after the distraught housemaid who was also taken to Rashid Hospital earlier for medical examination. The reports stated that, Karunawathi was under tremendous stress and mentally disturbed and needs medical assistance.

While, for Karunawathi, who like many come to the UAE to earn a living and support a family, if not compensated by the employers, will have to return home with just a small bag with few of her belongings, no money and incapacitated for life. Besides, the mental trauma of being physically assaulted and abused will linger on as memories for a life time.

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