Doctors find 23 nails in the body of a tortured domestic helper

August 25, 2010

Doctors in Sri Lanka have found 23 nails in the body of a tortured domestic helper who returned to Colombo from Riyadh, a Saudi paper reported.

“We have received this complaint from the Foreign Ministry in Colombo, who said the maid has been allegedly tortured by her sponsor,” a senior diplomat from the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh told Saudi daily Arab News. “We are looking for the sponsor. We were able to track down the Saudi recruitment agent in Riyadh and we will summon the sponsor to discuss this issue,” the diplomat said.

Doctors at the Kamburipitya Base Hospital in the Matara district, 140 km from Colombo, said the nails had been hammered into the domestic helper’s body.

Dr. Kamal Weeratunge, who was treating her, claimed the nails had been heated up before they punctured her skin.

On Sri Lankan television channel Newsfirst Sirasa, the domestic helper, identified as mother-of-three L.T. Ariyawathi, 49, showed the marks where the nails had gone through. She said that there were too many people to serve in the house where she worked.

“I had to work continuously since I had to do the chores of all the occupants and when I wanted to take rest due to tiredness, they inserted the nail in my body as a punishment,” she said, quoted by the newspaper. “I had to work from dawn to dusk. I hardly slept. They beat me and threatened to kill me and hide my body.”

She said that she arranged her travel documents to return home on her own expense.

According to records at the Sri Lankan Embassy, the domestic helper arrived in Saudi Arabia on March 25. The diplomat said that the sponsor had bypassed the mission and made his own arrangements to send the woman home. “We can only deal with cases that come up before the mission,” he said. However, he added that the mission would take action following the complaint submitted to the embassy from Colombo.

The domestic helper had come to Saudi Arabia after being registered at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).

Kingsley Ranawake, SLBFE chairman, said that a formal inquiry would be launched with the concerned domestic helper and appropriate action taken.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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