Memory remains

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Jul 20 2007

Home-bound, with heavy hearts
Bonny Mascarenhas,Bahrain Tribune

Sri Lankan domestic workers Grace and Mallika Geeganagegamage are heading home with memories of physical and mental abuse.
Mallika left yesterday on an Air Arabia flight on a ticket she purchased on her own. The MWPS and a well-wisher gave her some money for expenses during travel.
Grace will be leaving for Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
On June 22 the Tribune had reported about Grace who had fractured her leg while escaping from her second sponsor who, she said, had made advances when his wife was away.
Grace was taken to her recruitment agency which she said beat and abused Bangladeshi, Ethiopian, Indian and Sri Lankan women.
“But Filipinas and Indonesian women were never beaten,” Grace said. “They used to be away from the room provided by the agency and return after two or three days.”
Even before her fracture could fully heal Grace was sent to work for a third employer – a doctor. “He was nice and treated me well. But I had to run away from him because the pain in my leg was unbearable and it was getting difficult for me to do my routine chores.”
Afraid that the doctor would return her to the agency Grace ran away and was brought to the Migrant Workers’ Protection Society.
She narrated her problems to MWPS members who in turn filed a complaint against her agency.
Grace will be leaving for Sri Lanka on July 25 after she receives her passport. “The sponsor agreed to give her passport after the Minister of Labour intervened,” Delrene Embuldeniya, acting action head of MWPS said.
Grace will be receiving one month’s salary from the recruitment agency. “The MWPS has bought for her a Qatar Airways ticket to Colombo and a wellwisher has given BD50 towards expenses she may incur during travel,” Delrene said.
Mallika was shuttled around by a woman who said her husband was the real sponsor. “I ran away from the first sponsor because women in the house kept beating me. I agreed to return to them after the sponsor mediated with the MWPS and said I would be treated better.”
But the promise was not kept and the beatings continued. Mallika said another woman contacted her claiming that her husband was her real sponsor. “She told me to run away and that she would help me.”
Delrene confirmed this and said the woman contacted the MWPS and told them that her husband was Mallika’s sponsor and the woman the maid was earlier working for was her aunt. “She said she would take responsibility for the maid and would provide a ticket to Sri Lanka if they would let her and also settle the dues. She then took Mallika to her house.”
But Mallika was in a worse situation than before. “This woman made me work and then beat me. She did not pay the money she had told the MWPS she would pay me,” Mallika said. “After that she returned me to her aunt where the same treatment continued.”
Mallika ran away on June 8 and with the help of the MWPS lodged a complaint against her sponsor. “She will receive six months’ salary of which one month’s has to be paid to the agent as his fees,” Delrene said. “The sponsor has cancelled her residence permit and given her the passport.” Mallika left on an Air Arabia flight on a ticket she purchased on her own. The MWPS and a well-wisher gave her some money for expenses during travel
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