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'Tortured like an animal': Indian woman describes Saudi nightmare Open in fullscreen

Diana Alghoul

'Tortured like an animal': Indian woman describes Saudi nightmare

South Asian workers en route to Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 September, 2017

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Instead of being sent to Qatar to work as a tutor, her Mumbai based agency took her to the UAE before sending her to Saudi Arabia

More than a year ago, Indian citizen Jacintha Mendonca was preparing to start fresh with a new job in the Gulf. She turned to a Mumbai based recruitment agency when she was looking for work, when they told her they found her a high-salary job as an instructress for an Indian family in Qatar.

Little did she know, she was on her way to becoming a victim of human trafficking. Instead of being sent to Qatar, her agency took her to the UAE, before sending her to Saudi Arabia.

Typically, a sign of a recruitment agency being dubious is if they ask for a visa fee, which the company did not do, so believing the recruitment agency is legitimate, she set off to travel to the Gulf on June 19 2016.

When Mendonca arrived in Saudi Arabia, she was forced into a house with 10 children to work as a housemaid where she says she was abused and forced to live in slave-like conditions.

“I was made to work day in, day out at three mansions belonging to the employer's mother, his three wives and their children. I was tortured like an animal," Ms Mendonca told reporters at AV Baliga Hospital.

She said she was not allowed to leave the house, and was referred to as a khadama, Arabic word for servant, used in a derogatory context when talking about housekeepers.

In November, she allegedly tried to escape but was caught by her the police, who then sent her back to her employer. After being caught, she was subjected to yet more abuse and was even denied of water by her employer.

The ordeal persisted, until human rights organisation Udupi Human Rights Foundation (UHRF) heard about her story and managed to contact her employer after various attempts in April.

Her employer, initially refused to send her back, saying he had paid 24,000 Saudi Riyals ($6400) for her, saying he would only send her back if he was to be offered a refund.

President of UHRF Ravindranath Shanbhag said the organisation had to raise the money in order to reimburse the employer, since there was no signs of the fraudulent recruitment agency giving a refund, urging the Indian authorities to look into those who partake in human trafficking.

She arrived back in India last Friday, where she was sent to hospital to treat her deteriorating health. 

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