In March, Aryavati took up a job in Saudi Arabia so that she could earn enough to build a house in her hometown Matara, some 160 km from Colombo. Last week, she returned home. Bruised, burnt and with 23 nails slammed across her body.
Ill-treatment of Sri Lankan housemaids working in west Asian countries is not new. Thousands of Lankan women work as housemaids across Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan sending back millions as remittance money; often only to return with sordid stories of torture, enslavement and extortion.
But the brutality of the torture that 49-year-old Aryavati survived in Riyadh has triggered shockwaves.
While details are sketchy about the sequence of events at her employer’s home in Riyadh, it was learnt Aryavati was mercilessly tortured for months before she was finally allowed to leave on August 21.
In a bizarre turn of events, Aryavati was then stopped at the Riyadh airport as she passed under a metal detector. “But the customs couldn’t find anything on her and let her pass,” M Randeniya, a senior Bureau of Foreign Employment (BFE) official told HT.
According to reports, the victim initially told her family that she was tortured with thorns. But the level of torture was revealed only after Aryavati was taken to a doctor. X-ray reports revealed nails inserted between her fingers and her feet.
“This is a shocking incident. We are taking up the matter with the Saudi authorities (in Colombo). We are translating all documents in Arabic and will then hand it over to them,” Randeniya said, adding that surgeries would have to be done to remove the nails.