Domestic workers abused in Kuwait return home

Four women returned to their home state of Tamil Nadu in India with stories of suffering harrowing abuse at the hands of their Arab employers in Kuwait after being conned by a recruitment agent. They were hired as domestic help in three different Arab households in Kuwait, and subjected to inhuman work conditions including physical abuse, torture and solitary confinement.

The women whose names are M Amudha and G Rajeshwari returned five days ago, while Vasantha Mani and Muthulakshmi returned on Sunday. Due to her mistreatment, Muthulakshmi was too weak and had to be rushed to a hospital from the airport.

The 29-year-old Amudha was forced to take up the job after her husband was left paralyzed, and she revealed the details of her terrible experience. She said, “I was kept in a small room lacking ventilation and without food for two days, only because I asked for two hours of rest.”

The same agent near Thiruvannamalai recruited the four women for the jobs with their employers and they left for Kuwait at different periods. They all met at their agent’s friend’s office when they turned to him for help following an escape from their employers’ homes. They were subsequently abused and forced to return. “The agent locked us in a room. We didn’t know each other earlier, but had similar experiences of torture,” said Vasantha. “I had to sell my jewellery to return home,” she said.

On the promise of Rs 40,000 a month, Vasantha was the first to head to Kuwait for the job, but was forced to work for more than one family. “I had to work at my employer’s mother’s house, his sisters’ and his friends’. I would start work at 6 am and continue till 2 am. If his wife saw me resting even for a minute, she would slap me,” she said.

Speaking about her plight, Rajeshwari recalled an instance where she was not allowed to sit after working 12 hours. “I went to the toilet and sat for a while but slept for 10 minutes.”

The decision to leave wasn’t easy, but the three women felt they had to find a way. “I was told by my employer that my agent had sold me for Rs 7 lakh and he wouldn’t let me go,” said Amudha. “But I threatened to commit suicide and fled.”

Josephine Valarmathi, president of the National Domestic Workers Movement, said there were seven more women languishing in Kuwait and they needed help. “We need the urgent intervention of state authorities. They should take strict action against unregistered agents who land women in such a situation,” she said. Sumathi Vasudev, protector of emigrants, pointed out that not only unregistered companies, but even individuals and groups were involved in unauthorized recruitment. “In fact, cases of unscrupulous agents are brought to our attention by the job racket team of the Tamil Nadu police as well,” she said.

There are currently 108 registered agents functioning across the state. “They provide pre-departure orientation for all the emigrants travelling not only to the Gulf but to any of the 18 ECR countries,” she added.

Source: Times of India