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

Maid stranded in row with sponsor

A HOUSEMAID who claims she was not paid for a year, locked up without food, physically abused and prevented from speaking to her family is now stranded in Bahrain because her employer won't authorise her return home.

Nazifah Nabunnya, 24, from Uganda, arrived here in December 2013, but ran away from the Bahraini family who hired her at the end of last year because of alleged mistreatment.

After fleeing from the house in Hidd she contacted the Migrant Workers' Protection Society (MWPS), which has been sheltering her ever since.

"She is in our shelter and her travel has been delayed for the last four weeks, due to the sponsor failing to appear on five occasions at pre-arranged times to sign visa cancellation form," MWPS chairwoman Marietta Dias told journalists yesterday at the MWPS headquarters, in Adliya.

"With much difficulty the employer paid her BD500 at the police station, BD50 a month for 10 months, and he said he will not pay for one month - stating she often did not do any work.

"She neither has her CPR nor a passport, which he claims she must have stolen and thrown away.

"It took us six weeks to process an out pass for her from the Ugandan Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

"We went to five different locations with the pass, as directed by the employer, to get his signature but he didn't turn up anywhere.

"Now he is not answering phone calls - neither from us nor the police - and we are waiting for immigration officials to help Ms Nabunnya leave Bahrain."

Ms Dias said the case once again highlighted the need for African countries to open embassies in Bahrain, particularly with increasing numbers of African recruits travelling here.

Ms Nabunnya, who taught English to grade five students in Uganda, said she moved to Bahrain to support her ailing mother and three-year-old son Hesham.

"My cousin in Bahrain said this family wanted domestic help and I agreed, as I was hoping to get four times what I was earning in my country," Ms Nabunnya told the GDN.

"But as soon as I landed, my passport was taken and at home I was told I looked darker than in the picture and they made fun of my race.

Locked

"The woman in the house used to beat me for anything and everything and used to lock me up without food or water for three to four days at a stretch.

"Sometimes she put some Khubz (bread) and water and she never trusted her husband, so she took me with her everywhere or locked me up when she was not at home.

"Once the man in the house beat me up, on my head and body, and I was bleeding and I requested them to send me home.

"They threatened that the police would arrest me at the airport if I left before the end of the contract."

She claimed she was made to work 18 to 20 hours a day, including gardening and car washing, having paid BD65 to a recruitment agency in Uganda.

"I had to spend all my savings to come here, thinking I would be able to make that money within two months," she said.

"I am divorced, lost my father and could not complete my graduation - and that's why I had to compromise for a domestic worker's job.

"I was ready to work hard to earn for my family, but I could not put up with the abuses and had to run away as I feared I would die."

The GDN reported last week that Ethiopian housemaid Meseret Bekele, 31, hanged herself in the Interior Ministry's Isa Town Detention Centre for Women after allegedly refusing to board a flight home, the reasons for which remain unclear.

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