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Lankan slave rescued

19 February 2011 04:06 am - 37     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


RIYADH: The Sri Lankan Embassy rescued on Wednesday an Asian maid who was kept as a virtual slave by her Saudi sponsor for 17 years.

Kusuma Nandini, 56, came to Riyadh in 1994 from Sri Lanka and was kept a virtual prisoner at her sponsor’s home. She was not paid salary even once during 15 years of her imprisonment and forbidden from communicating with her relatives in Sri Lanka. “This is a record breaking case in the history of housemaids in the Kingdom. This woman was kept as a slave at one home for 15 years and then transferred to the home of her sponsor's brother. There she was given a salary for two years,” said Sunil Wijesinghe, labor welfare officer at the Sri Lankan Embassy.

According to diplomats, Nandini had forgotten her native tongue when she was rescued and behaved like a robot. “She couldn’t speak her native language and had forgotten her family members when she was rescued,” said Wijesinghe.

“After meeting other Sri Lankans at the embassy, the maid began remembering things and started picking up her native language,” he added.

The Sri Lankan Embassy learned about Nandini’s plight after her 25-year-old daughter, who lives in Kalutara, some 40 km from Colombo, informed the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry that her family had not been in contact with her mother for 17 years.

Embassy officials visited the home of Nandini’s sponsor and those who lived there denied she was there. Officials persevered and were able to subsequently track her down and bring her to the embassy.

“I came to Riyadh when my eldest daughter, Yamuna Vinodini, was eight years old. Now she is 25 years old. My son Ravika Priyankara was six years at the time,” Nandini told Arab News, adding that she came to the Kingdom to earn money to pay for her children’s education as her husband was not in proper employment at the time.

“I am very happy and thankful to the mission in Riyadh for having rescued me from this house where I was working like a machine,” she said, adding that she thought there was no point in thinking of her home in Sri Lanka as she was permanently imprisoned in the house.

“I did not see sunlight during the past 17 years since no one took me out,” she said.

The embassy is currently taking up the matter with the authorities concerned to get the maid’s outstanding salary, which stands at SR54,000. Nandini has, however, managed to save SR7,200 which she received in wages from her sponsor’s brother. She does not have a passport or a resident certificate to prove she was working in the Kingdom.
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  Comments - 37

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  • anemagekata Sunday, 20 February 2011 01:06 AM

    Most garment factories are short of labor, and they usually pay more than the Gulf employers.

    Why in the world GOSL still wanst to send its women as housemaids to the Gulf?

    azmath Sunday, 20 February 2011 02:27 AM

    this is kind of recursive curse to maids in middle east, no politicians fight for the rights of our women, they leave their kids and go abroad for a better future but what happens. we have regulations, laws & rules but no one investigates about the job agencies. this country never learn from the past....

    eresh S kumara Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:38 AM

    First of all our embassies in Gulf is not much strong.You see Indian and bangladesh embassies are strict than ours.We should not send house maids to Arab.Specailly Saudi,Kuwait,Bahrain.Look at the past and think about future,Decision up to Husbands,Fathers,Brothers,and responsible persons.

    Bandula Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:33 AM

    This is a very very serious matter. This should be taken to the UN and a joint initiative required by all countries supplying labour to middle east. Just imagine not seeing sunlight for 17 years. It is an absolute violation of fundamental rights which should be condemned by all persons who value civil liberties. It should be immediately tabled at the SAARC and UN Human rights commission. Over to you Mr. President,External Affairs Minister and Human Rights Minister.

    JD Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:41 AM

    Well done..... Poverty should eradicate to stop women going out of the country for employment......... it up to GOSL

    reality Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:42 AM

    you are paying them tribute for finding her after 17 years?????
    so her daughter only complained after 17 years?????
    In reality, what most lankans dont know is that all our consulates and embassies are among the most inefficient and least helpful to its citizens, in the world.
    surely this is not just one case, there are many cases like this all over the middle east which are just overlooked by the lankan authorities for a few bucks.
    nothing is going to improve.this woman was just lucky.hope she gets her full pay and returns safely

    channa Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:47 AM

    Well done SL embassy....

    kuriosity Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:56 AM

    Majority of the lower end job opportunities that come are for women in the Middle East. to improve their living standards, educate their children etc they make a ultimate sacrifice by leaving their family behind. since most men in this category cant find high paid employment they are forced to send their wives to work overseas.
    it is easy for people like you to sit back and criticize them for sending their women out there. without criticizing them why not look at a solution where the men can give a better life to their families either in SL or overseas

    Wickramarathne Saturday, 19 February 2011 06:11 AM

    See how these maids are suffering, why government cant take action.. Stop sending maids to overseas. give opportunities in Sri Lanka.. This also one of the development in the country...NOT ONLY THE ROADS DEVELOPMENT" ....WHO IS REAL RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE POOR MAIDS? GOVERNMENT

    citizen1 Saturday, 19 February 2011 06:08 AM

    What a waste o a life! She missed her life for the ast 17 years!

    AHMED Saturday, 19 February 2011 06:16 AM

    Stop all personal entertainment expenses and LOOK AT THESE POOR MAIDS..give opportunity in the country

    DXB Sunday, 20 February 2011 05:01 AM

    True , The reason for having inefficient embassy is that , they found this Job only through political relationship , Our Most of the embassy officers are relatives of existing government Politicans...... Our goverment keep change but the culture does not change ,

    SHIYAM Saturday, 19 February 2011 08:08 AM

    Woman association and house wife association should serious look at this. I think these association can do further work with GOSL and SL Embassy of kingdom and try to identify such women and rescue them.

    Abdulla Saturday, 19 February 2011 08:09 AM

    We should completely stop sending house maids to gulf countries and should educate our poor womens that they can earn the same at her home counry as well.They go abraod for a salary around 20,000- 28,000 LKR (according to advertisements)and have to work like slaves there.But they should undstand that if they can earn atleast 15,000 LKR (may be in garment factory job or female security officer,etc....) its worth than suffering in a unknown country

    shiyaz Saturday, 19 February 2011 08:21 AM

    Thats soo pathetic

    pathy Saturday, 19 February 2011 08:18 AM

    Our mission has done a good job. now she can able return home to live happily with her family.she underwent a bitter experience for her family.therefore should care thier mother well. like tunesia and egypt saudi too bcome very soon by peoples target to regime change.

    RIZWAN Saturday, 19 February 2011 08:43 AM

    This kind of things not accepted in Islam, Allah will punished this Babaric Arab Family. my friends dont blame Nandanis usband we are still poor.

    xlntgson Saturday, 19 February 2011 09:30 AM

    What would have happened if in that stage she died before rescue?

    Matalan Saturday, 19 February 2011 09:46 AM

    Embassy Staff now most certainly weren't there 17 yrs. ago. Credit where it's due. Ignoring the fact that the current staff got this lady recued and her life back on its feet, is NOT reality. I agree, as I've been saying for years, it's the fault of the govt. for sending our women to slave under Arabs for easy foreign exch. MR said last year that he wants to send them as trained care assts and instead of maids. Wonder whether that got swept under the carpet.

    chulan Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:02 AM

    For some luck this lady was rescued. Pepole who works in these countries know i our Embassy people work that why it took 17 years to trace this lady.

    Faqi Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:08 AM

    This is very good news. I hope they could get her the back wages and maybe compensation for the way she was treated. There may be many more in slavery in Saudi Arabia. They are a very cruel race of people from all the stories that come from that Kingdom. Its time no Sri Lankan woman is ever sent to work in that country. I hope this news item gets world wide publicity.

    haren Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:39 AM

    amazing,what took the embassy 17years for this "rescue"?

    Pain in the neck Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:23 PM

    I am doing my part.

    Alugedera Saturday, 19 February 2011 04:00 PM

    Saudi Arabia should be put on a "black list". Worldwide attention should be given to matters of this nature.

    simon appuhamy Sunday, 20 February 2011 02:07 PM

    Why do these horror stories only happen in middle east countries?? No housemaids are imprisoned , tortured and commit suicide in Cyprus, Singapore or Hong Kong? Can someone tell me why.

    Moda Johny Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:14 PM

    send more of our sisters to saudi and our local jobs to indians and chinese . Boy are dumb or what!

    Matalan Saturday, 19 February 2011 04:34 AM

    May I pay my tribute to the Embassy staff and bow in honour for their untiring efforts without which this poor lady would have perished unkown to anybody. Despite the vermin we have in our midst, we have gems and saphires too who brings warmth to our hearts. I thank you, gallant men and women!

    m.m.usoof Saturday, 19 February 2011 06:34 PM

    hats off to the guys at the embassy in ryd. good job. let us give the credit where its due.

    zaid Saturday, 19 February 2011 07:51 PM

    It is shame to send our women abroad as domestic helps. I pray govt will introduce new laws to eliminate this shame !

    shan Saturday, 19 February 2011 04:47 AM

    Pls, stop sending our people to work there. the so called kingdom have no values. it'll be tough for us to manage without the revenue that produce by our people in there country . but find alternative solutions.
    government must act now. we are Sri lankans. not slaves

    Musthafa Saturday, 19 February 2011 04:48 AM

    All Sri Lankan men are responsible for this... Why are we sending women for work aboard, while men are not taking up the work seriously and feeding the family? We are talking about woman's rights, What have we done as a country to protect our women?

    A Job well done by the Riyadh Mission for rescuing the poor woman.

    Upul Saturday, 19 February 2011 09:04 PM

    No use as Saudi most un-democratic country in the world is back by the US and other western countries.

    Jayasiri Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:32 PM

    When would our poolish people stop sending women to Saudi Arabia?

    Apsara Saturday, 19 February 2011 05:01 AM

    All blame should go to her husband. If he had a proper job, this poor lady would not have gone to Saudi.


    bernard Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:47 PM

    Enough is enough. It is about time SL President take personal interest in horrifying crimes done against our poor women who work as slaves for these heartless, uncivilized, inhuman Saudis.

    bernard Saturday, 19 February 2011 10:49 PM

    Nothing would have happened. Another death due to natural causes or a suicide.

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