Reading these harrowing stories in the papers on a daily basis, it may seem as though the situation is terribly bad and getting worse. However the mere fact that these accounts are now being reported in the Press is a very positive sign. Things like this used to happen all the time before also, but there was no one to stand up for the maids, so their stories went unheard. The Migrant Workers Group has done a tremendous job of representing abused workers and publicizing their stories. While they just don't have the recources to represent every single such case, the MWG must be commended for the work they have done. WIth their efforts, we hopefully won't have to read these reports so frequently in the future.
From Sunday's GDN:
Bid to stop injured maid flying out
By ROBERT SMITH
Human rights workers are trying to stop an Indonesian housemaid being sent home tonight, after being injured while trying to escape from her Kuwaiti sponsor.
Dewi Asrikak, aged 22, was injured when she tried to climb down from a second floor apartment after allegedly enduring a year of beatings from her sponsor's wife.
She also says she has never been paid, although her sponsor claims to have sent three months' salary to her family back in Indonesia and two months' salary to her agency.
Ms Asrikak is unable to walk and is recovering at Salmaniya Medical Complex, but her sponsor has reportedly booked her onto a Cathay Pacific flight to Jakarta, via Hong Kong, later today.
However, human rights workers are trying to delay her departure - at least until she is paid any outstanding salary or until her claims have been investigated.
They say the sponsor is refusing to pay her and says he spent the money on her medical treatment. (Continued)
He had earlier told her that he would pay her salary in full when she returned home.
Members of the Migrant Workers Group (MWG) have now appointed a lawyer and held last-minute talks with immigration officials, as well as a visiting consular officer from the Indonesian Embassy, in Kuwait, in an effort to keep her here.
But it was still not clear yesterday whether she would be made to leave or not.
"We are trying our best to keep her here and there is a lawyer on the case," an MWG volunteer told the GDN.
"But we still don't know if she will be released into our care or not."
He said they had asked the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to intervene, but had been told that she must report to the ministry in person to file a complaint.
Ms Asrikak started working for the Kuwaiti family in November last year.
They live on the second floor of an apartment block in Manama.
She claims she worked from 5am to midnight with no day off, but even then the sponsor's wife would beat her with a brush, slippers or wooden spoons if she made a mistake.
The maid also claims she was called names and made to repeat the phrase "I am a donkey".
She says she tried to scale down the outside of the building on November 5 using some wire, but fell and hurt her feet.
"After some time her madam found her, made her crawl on her knees to the car and took her to Ibn Al Nafees Hospital where she was X-rayed and both her feet were bandaged," said the MWG volunteer.
"She was left in the car until the evening when she was taken to the airport to be deported to Indonesia.
"The airport authorities would not allow her to travel in her condition so she was brought back to Manama, slapped by her madam and then taken to SMC where her feet were operated on.
"Her right foot is in a hard cast and her left is still heavily bandaged."
An immigration official said yesterday that if doctors discharged Ms Asrikak then she would probably be allowed to travel.
He said the Kuwaiti family was claiming that she was paid, but did not keep any receipts. "They say she has been paid her dues," he said.
"The sponsor's wife also claims she stole something from her. If she is discharged from hospital there is no problem. She will be OK to travel."
The above article was published in the GDN on 28-Nov-04.