A team of surgeons in Colombo removed 18 nails Friday from a Sri Lankan woman allegedly tortured in Saudi Arabia by her employer, a spokesman for the hospital said.
L.T. Ariyawathi was employed in Saudi Arabia for five months during which 24 heated nails were driven into her hands, legs and other parts, she said. She underwent surgery after returning to Sri Lanka, but surgeons were unable to remove six of the nails as doing so would have presented a risk to her life, the hospital said.
Ariyawathi told the local media that her employer had overworked her, and punished her whenever she tried to rest. "Whenever I refused to work if I was tired, they threatened to kill me and drove nails into my body." The government said it was studying a complaint she has lodged with the Sri Lankan police.
The Foreign Employment Bureau, the agency in charge of Sri Lankan nationals working abroad, was assessing whether to take up the case with the Saudi authorities and was also considering the case to see whether the alleged victim might be eligible for a claim under the agency's insurance policy.
Over 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed overseas, the majority of them women working in the Middle East. Foreign remittances by Sri Lankans came to 3.3 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($29 million) last year, making them the second-biggest source of foreign revenue after garment exports.