The Indian government has demanded that Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, order an independent investigation after a Saudi employer allegedly chopped off the arm of their maid for reporting abuse. India wants the employer to be charged with attempted murder.
CNN reports that Kashturi Munirathinam, 58, was working in the home of an unidentified Saudi woman when she went to the police to complain about alleged mistreatment she’d been suffering at her job. According to her sister, who learned of the attack on September 30, Munirathinam told police that she had been treated badly, had been refused pay, and was being starved by her employer, who did not provide her with an adequate amount of food on a daily basis. The employer, upset by these accusations (as well as Munirathinam’s possible attempt to escape her home), allegedly chopped off Munirathinam’s arm in retaliation.
The Indian government is outraged that one of their citizens may have been so badly abused and has complained to Saudi Arabian officials who, according to CNN, are not currently discussing the case publicly. India, however, will not be letting this go and is demanding that Munirathinam’s attacker be charged with attempted murder.
“We are aware of the plight of Ms. Kashturi Munirathinam, a domestic help who has suffered serious injuries allegedly inflicted by her Saudi Arabian sponsor,” Indian external affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement Thursday night.
“This is a very unfortunate and most condemnable incident. Our embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor,” Swarup said.
“We will continue to seek justice for the victim,” he added.
Munirathinam had worked for the family since July, but conditions had been bad from the beginning, according to family members. The family is seeking to have Munirathinam’s medical expenses covered, as they cannot afford the bills she’s incurring while she recovers in hospital. Nor can they afford to have her return to India.
“Ever since she went to work with this family in July, things were not alright. My mother was not even allowed to speak to us over the phone, she was not given proper food and was forced to work long hours,” her son S Kumar told BBC Hindi.
“When she tried to escape the harassment and torture, her right arm was chopped off by the woman employer. Now my sister can’t even sit and do simple things on her own, as her spinal cord has also been injured,” her sister S Vijayakumari added.
Conditions for international domestic workers in Saudi Arabia are notoriously bad, according to CNN. Indonesia has banned their citizens from working in Saudi Arabia after two maids were beheaded after a very controversial murder conviction was passed down, and Sri Lanka has also limited the number of women being allowed to work in Saudi Arabia after a woman was beheaded for allegedly killing an employer’s infant. Even Indian women working for Saudi diplomats in New Delhi aren’t immune to mistreatment by their employers.
Last month, a Saudi diplomat working in his country’s embassy in New Delhi left India after being accused of sexually assaulting — and facilitating gang rapes — of two Nepali domestic helpers who worked for him.
Munirathinam is on the road to recovery, but is still considered in serious condition.
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