Thrashed and burnt Indian housemaid returns home

Rehana Begum, from the Indian state of Hyderabad, has alleged that she was sent to Kuwait on false promises of a decent job and instead ended-up being tortured by her employers. She thanked the Indian embassy and the Indian prime minister for rescuing her.

Speaking to the media in her hometown, Ms. Begum said she had been cheated by an agent who had promised her a job as a beautician in a beauty-parlor in Kuwait and a salary of KD 130 (equivalent to Indian rupees 30,000 per month).

But arriving in Kuwait in January of this year, she was horrified to find that her employment was as a housemaid. Over the next five months she was regularly tortured by her sponsors. “I was thrashed and burnt,” she said, pointing to burn-marks on her body, “They also did not provide me with proper food or clothes,” she added.

She was rescued after managing to call her daughter in India and narrate the cruelties she was facing. The daughter then approached the Indian foreign-ministry and through them the Indian Embassy in Kuwait.

Through diligent and steadfast work by the embassy and support from authorities, Ms. Begum was rescued from the clutches of her sponsor and safely repatriated back to India.

Ms. Begum who returned home to her near and dear ones last week, warned others seeking abroad to be wary of agents. “There are many agents out there, trying to dupe people. We should not believe anything these agents tell us,” she warned others seeking work abroad. “I would also like to thank the Indian Embassy and the Indian government for rescuing me,” she added.

This is similar to the case where earlier in June, 200 Indians were stranded in Kuwait for six months after they were promised jobs by a blacklisted recruitment agency. Their plight came to light after a video of them asking for help went viral on social media, in which the stranded youths revealed that they were duped to come to Kuwait on employment visas through an Indian city-based placement agency.

Kuwait has been taking a stronger stance against visa trading with concerned authorities sentencing many perpetrators to imprisonment or fines on charges of human trafficking.

However, reports persist of Indians buying visas from fraudulent recruitment agencies in India, who are connected to Kuwait-based recruiters. The people are often forced to work in abhorrent conditions, suffer nonpayment of salaries and abuse, and unable to seek rights under the labor law.

In April, the President of the Human Rights Association Dr. Yousef Al-Saqr stated that the issue of the business in visa trading is still ongoing for several reasons, including the greed of some employers and influential people to make easy money.

He pointed out that the residence trade has many aspects, including the recruitment of workers by fictitious companies and promising them jobs, and then they are left in the streets without any job. “We also find some people working abroad while brokers at home work as intermediaries to lure some workers by bringing their relatives or friends for money.

On the cases received by the association, Al-Saqr said: “There are complaints about the seizure of passports and refusal by the owner of the company to transfer the residence of the worker to another company on the grounds that he is one of the founders of his company, as well as by filing arbitrary absconding cases against the workers.”

On its part, after receiving a flood of complaints and grievances by Indian workers in Kuwait, the Indian embassy has now come across frequent cases of fake job offers being made by unscrupulous agencies in the name of respectable Kuwaiti companies.

The Embassy has urged all concerned to exercise utmost care and caution and to read the Do’s and Don’ts on the website, and also verify the authenticity of the job offers as well as the genuineness of the Visas directly from the company.

The Indian embassy has published a list here of recruitment agencies and companies to avoid as part of the measures to inform Indians from being misled.

For verification, the embassy has provided an email address attachelabour@indembkwt.gov.in so that intending workers can verify the authenticity of their job offers.  Further, the embassy has published a list of companies and recruiting agents that are to be avoided by Indian nationals when seeking employment.