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Sri-Lankan Maids in Kuwait and Jordan Tortured with Nails

On November 15, 2010

In the last couple of days two reports have come out from Amman and Kuwait about Sri-Lankan maids who were tortured using nails. A similar case we reported in August involved Ariyawathie, a Sri-Lankan maid who had over 20 nails inserted into her by her Saudi employers.

In the Kuwaiti case, V. R. Letchumi, a 38-year-old maid had 23 nails hammered into her body by her Kuwaiti sponsors when she would ask them for her wages. Letchumi had nine nails removed from her body thus far in a Sri Lankan hospital, and she will undergo additional surgeries in the coming days to remove the rest of them. In the case from Jordan, D. M. Chandima, a maid, reported to the Sri Lankan consulate in Amman that she was forced to swallow six nails by her sponsors.

The Sponsorship system that governs employment and immigration status of foreign workers in Kuwait, Saudi-Arabia and Jordan creates a near-total dependence of the worker on his sponsor. Workers' contracts can be terminated at will by the sponsor, but not by the worker who is unable to change employers. Workers cannot leave their employer, even in cases of abuse, unless they're desperate enough to risk imprisonment followed by deportation. Domestic workers are the most vulnerable migrant workers since their employment is away from the public eye and the government's ability and willingness to prevent abuse is close to zero.