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 Post subject: Maid in agony flies home
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:35 am 
Maid in agony flies home

By Meraj Rizvi
29 October 2004

DUBAI — S.M. Karunawathi, the Sri lankan housemaid allegedly tortured by her UAE employer in Fujairah, returned to Colombo last night, happy to be united with her family, but with agony and torment writ large on her face.

The housemaid who spoke to the Press prior to her departure, said, “I am relieved and happy to be reunited with my family after a period of two years and eight months. I am grateful to the Sri Lankan Consulate and the immigration officials in Fujairah who have been very cooperative and sympathetic in my case. But, the scars of torture by my employer and agony of non-settlement of my dues will linger on for a lifetime.”

She also expressed her gratitude towards the Dubai community who raised around Dh11,165 after reading about her plight in the local newspapers. “This amount is godsend and will help to bring some happiness to my family comprising of a paralysed husband, polio-stricken son and two daughters,” said Karunawathi, hoping never to leave her country and separate from her family again.

“I will do anything for survival in Sri Lanka, but, pray that I never return to the Gulf for employment,” said the housemaid who lost a third finger of her right hand due to the physical assault inflicted by her employer. She complained of difficulty in writing, and carrying out the household chores, due to the amputated finger.

Karunawathi who had pinned up hopes on receiving her outstanding dues for a period of two years and eight months, was declared 'absconder' by her employer before the immigration officials last week. According to the employer she had only worked for them for barely two months after which she fled their home.

Although, the employer agreed to pay her outstanding dues of Dh800 (two months salary), no payment was received by the housemaid who finally requested the officials to repatriate her home.

After meeting with her employer at the immigration office, she said of losing hope of receiving any justice.

The Sri Lankan Consul General, P.D. Fernando, said he was happy Karunawathi was finally returning home. He thanked the local authorities in Fujairah for extending all assistance and cooperation within their framework, and helping in her quick repatriation.

Fernando said the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) in Colombo will ensure that Karunawathi reaches her home safely, a small village of Kakirawa located in the Northern Central Province, which takes about five hours by road from Colombo. The Bureau will also conduct full enquiry into her case.

Karunawathi arrived in the UAE through the SLBFE and therefore paid 5,000 Sri Lankan rupees towards the compulsory insurance benefit scheme for overseas Sri Lankan workers prior to her departure from Colombo. If her disability is assessed and proved by the insurance company, a Consulate official disclosed, she can receive compensation of upto 200,000 SL rupees.

The housemaid had arrived in the UAE on employment at the employer's home in Fujairah, but after two months was transferred to the sister's home in the emirate.

She worked daily for 20 hours cooking, cleaning and looking after a family comprising 14 children.

Tortured maid pins all her hopes on Oct. 23 hearing

By Meraj Rizvi
19 October 2004

DUBAI — The Sri Lankan housemaid who alleged being tortured by her UAE national employer resulting in the breaking of a finger, which was later amputated, and non-payment of dues is now eagerly awaiting return home after justice is rendered to her by the local authorities.

A case on S.M. Karunawathi’s behalf was registered on October 1 at the Fujairah Court by the Sri Lankan Consulate to help Karunawathi receive her outstanding dues and compensation for physical and mental abuse at the hands of the local employer. The first hearing is scheduled on October 23.

P.D. Fernando, Sri Lankan Consul-General for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said he is hopeful the maid will receive justice and will thereafter return home soon.

Karunawathi who is now in the custody of the Sri Lankan Consulate is undergoing counselling to help her recover from mental and physical trauma she underwent during the last two and half years of her employment in Fujairah.

“We are trying to cool her down as she is currently in a disturbed mental state,” he said. Being abused both physically and mentally and then labelled as absconder by the sponsor who has refused to pay her dues has only added to the maid’s misery who was forced to take up employment in the UAE to earn a living and support her family, comprised of paralysed husband, a polio-stricken son and two daughters.

I want to return home, but not without any money, Karunawathi said, pinning all hopes on the court hearing next week.

Karunawathi, who arrived in Fujairah about two and half years ago, was employed by a UAE national for Dh400.

She was later moved to the house of the sponsor’s sister where she was tortured and physically assaulted by the sister’s husband.

The housemaid also complained that she had to buy her own meals except lunch and had to work for over 20 hours daily cooking and cleaning and looking after her employers’ 14 children. The employer often beat her up which led to breaking of her wrist and a finger, which was later amputated by a doctor in a Fujairah hospital.

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