DUBAI — A 35-year old, mother of three, Sri Lankan housemaid is a victim of her employers physical and mental abuse, resulting in her losing out a finger, and left distraught without any money and hopes of returning home.
S.M. Karunawathi, who arrived in Fujairah two and half years ago to work as a housemaid at a UAE national's home, was transferred within a few days to another home, a relative of her sponsor, to look after a family with 14 children.
"I was hired for a salary of Dh400, but never received the full salary in the last two years and eight months that I worked.
"So far, the employer, also a UAE national, has paid her a total of Dh1,000 in small sums of Dh100 or Dh200 after several pleas from Karunawathi. The money received was repatriated home in three installments," Karunawathi told reporters in Dubai yesterday.
Mentally disoriented after being repeatedly assaulted by her employer, she claimed that the new employer would beat her up daily and also broke her finger and wrist bone.
"I was in pain for nine months, but no medical help was extended to me. Instead the employer's wife rendered some home remedies to help the pain to subside. But, after suffering a broken finger and swollen wrist for nine months, I forced the employer's wife to take me to a doctor since the pain was unbearable and I could not carry out the household chores.
"The doctor at a Fujairah hospital on examination of my finger said it had to be amputated. And now, I am without a finger in my right hand," the housemaid said with tears in her eyes. Even after this torture and being physically assaulted by the man of the house, who she claimed was suffering from some sort of mental disorder, Karunawathi never informed her family in Sri Lanka about her plight.
Sri Lankan Consul-General in Dubai, P.D Fernanado, told reporters that they had finally succeeded in meeting the original sponsor yesterday in Fujairah.
But, he has refused to pay her entire dues and repatriation expenses. He has only agreed to pay two months salary, Fernando disclosed, pointing out that Karunawathi was not happy with the paltry sum decided as final settlement at the immigration office in Fujairah yesterday. (Continued)
The print version of the paper has a photograph of Karunawathi displaying her hand with one finger missing.
This is a typical story. The worst part is that it is unlikely that she will get any justice. For most people in this situation, they are supporting parents or children back home and they can't afford the costs of long legal procedures to get any compensation for their suffering. The sponsor will usually just pay for the ticket home, and the victim will accept since after such bad experiences, the only place they want to go is home. The sponsor can then find someone to exploit. In the case of Karunawathi, the sponsor is even refusing to pay for the ticket home.