Sri Lankan Maid in Kuwait Severely Beaten

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Jan 7 2010

Al Watan Daily reports that a Sri Lankan maid was severely beaten, held against her will and not paid her salary for seventeen months.  More alarming in the story, and adding to a pattern of female-headed abuses, it was the wife of the employer who subjected the domestic worker to repeated sexual, physical and psychological abuses, as well as depriving her of adequate food.

Once again, it is the labor offices of embassies who have taken the leading role in addressing labor abuses against their citizens abroad in Kuwait, however, it is host-country institutions that need to bolster their labour ministries in order to address the root of the problem.

The domestic helper finally managed to escape her employers and sought refuge at a police station where a security officer rushed her to a nearby hospital for immediate treatment. Medical reports stated that the domestic helper had experienced hard blows to her face, body and lower parts and was suffering from hematoma and concussions.

Different than most reports an interviews with abused maids, this Al Watan article, published on January 7th and entitled "Sri Lankan domestic helper severely beaten, imprisoned for 18 months" by Ricky Laxa, provides graphic photo-documentation of the abuse inflicted on the victim's face.  Kuwaiti newspapers this week have been interviewing hospitalized domestic workers, signifying a reporting turn from merely documenting arrests and suicide attempts to also providing in-depth follow-up reports and personalizing stories through in-depth interviews.

"My male employer has been very nice to me, but the wife beat me several times for eighteen months. I was locked in a small room where I could not even lie down or sit, but remained standing for hours. I wept for years and suffered in silence, hoping that they would change the way they treated me, but I could not bear the daily beatings, hunger and other abuse she (female employer) inflicted on me. I decided to run away and sought refuge in a police station close to my house."

"I survived on water and a little left over scrap food. My female employer made me strip naked and forced me to take cold showers on several occasions after beating me, and the pain was unbearable," the domestic helper added.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East