7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Maid hurt in escape bid

A HOUSEMAID has fallen from the second floor window of her employer's home as she tried to escape, fracturing her pelvis.

The 60-year-old was trying to abseil down the outside of the house, in Budaiya, using rope she tied to her bed when she slipped and fell.

Rights campaigners claim the woman, identified as K Sathyawati, from India, was trying to flee because she had not been paid for the past 23 months.

The Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) also claims she was assaulted and denied access to medical care and phone calls by the family she worked for, which included three adults and five children under nine years, living in a two-bedroom flat.

Ms Sathyawati worked for the Bahraini family for two years and seven months, but says she was only paid BD60 per month for the first eight months.

'I wanted to escape this house of hell where I was trapped for two years and seven months,' she told the GDN yesterday at the MWPS shelter, where she is being cared for until she returns home.

'I only received my salary for the first eight months and did not receive any payment for 23 months.

'My sponsor said that he paid for my travel and that was enough to make me work without a salary.

'I was initially promised BD70, but then got paid BD60 a month '“ until I was told I would not get any money.

'I worked 19 hours a day with little rest and was treated in an inhumane way all the time.'

She said she planned her escape when she asked to be sent home for medical treatment, but her employer allegedly told her: 'If you die I will put you in a box and the Indian Embassy will send you.'

'I begged my sponsor to allow me to fly back home because I have heart problems,' she said, holding out medicines prescribed for her illness.

'I then tied a rope to the bed and wanted to escape through the window of the second-storey apartment, but I fell to the ground when the rope snapped.'

However, passers-by found her on the street and took her to Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) for treatment.

She claims to have considered suicide after failing in a previous escape bid last year and described herself as being trapped in 'hell'.

'I was trapped at the house, which is like hell, where the boys aged nine and five beat me all the time while their parents laughed,' she claimed.

'The children and the father would bang my head against the ground and cause bruises all over my body.

'The elder son would also punch me in the chest as his mother looked on, before pinching me when I sought her help.

'I did not know what to do because I was alone and had no friends.

'They did not allow me to leave the house, but only took me in the car when they visited a relative's home which was nearby.

'I attempted to flee but my sponsor picked me up from a police station and locked me in the house.

'I then drank a bit of Clorox to kill myself to escape my ordeal.'

Ms Sathyawati said she had worked as a maid in the Gulf previously and came here so that she could provide medication for her daughter, aged 26, who suffers from Aids.

'I came to work in Qatar, Saudi, Kuwait and Bahrain to be able to pay for medication for my daughter, who suffers from Aids,' she said.

'My two other daughters, aged eight and 11, died from poliomyelitis (a highly contagious viral infection) and a gas explosion in India respectively.

'My husband passed away in 1991 due to an illness.'

After successfully escaping from the home of her employer, Ms Sathyawati reported him to police, but has since dropped the charges in exchange for payment of her salary.

'I accepted and was paid BD1,380 that they owed me,' she said.

'I just want to go home and don't want my sponsor to hold a grudge against me because he still has my passport.'

The MWPS estimated that shelters in Bahrain received up to 1,000 such cases a year.

'Shelters in Bahrain get around 1,000 similar cases per year, where domestic workers are abused,' said general secretary Beverely Hamadeh.

'Not all cases go to court due to the victims wanting to fly back home and avoid lengthy trials, which may not go in their favour.

'We have another case where a housemaid was locked in a home for 15 years, but she lost the case after a 12-month trial.'

[email protected]

click on image to view the digital edition