Saudi employer chops off hand of Indian nanny

Issue around non-payment of wages

(Reuters) — Family of an Indian woman, working as a nanny in Saudi Arabia, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help facilitate her return after her employer chopped off her hand.

Kasthuri Munirathinam, 58, suffered her employer's wrath when she complained to authorities about non-payment of wages. She is being treated at a hospital in Riyadh.

Munirathinam, who hails from Vellore district of India's southern Tamil Nadu state, had gone to Saudi Arabia through an agent to earn a decent income and pay off her loans. She was promised a monthly wage of rupees 80,000 (CAN$1,597) to take care of on old woman.

However, it was not long after Munirathinam had started working with the accused that she told her family about the alleged torture being meted out to her.

"She went there almost three months ago as a domestic help. In the first month she did not face any problems but after that she started complaining to her son that things were becoming difficult for her and she was getting scared. She wanted to come back," said victim's sister, S. Vijayakumari in Chennai city.

Vijayakumari added that the family now feared for Munirathinam's life and urged the federal government to bring her back home safe.

"We met the embassy officials requesting them for help. Meanwhile some Arab people had come up as mediators. Now we fear that she might be killed. We want her to be brought back alive. We request the prime minister to help save her life," said Vijayakumari.

India's Foreign Minister spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, said that the matter has been taken up with Saudi officials.

"We had raised the issue on 7th of October itself with the ministry of foreign affairs and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor. Separately embassy officials have met the chief as well as the investigating officer of the police station and have requested that Mrs. Munirathinam statement be recorded without any further delay and independent probe be undertaken on the incident and a case of attempted murder be lodged against the sponsor. The sponsor should also be directed to pay for her ongoing treatment," said Swarup in New Delhi.

India's Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, too voiced her objection to the incident and tweeted, "Chopping of hand of Indian lady - We are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia." "This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities. Our embassy is in touch with the victim," read another tweet.

According to a report by human rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), many migrant workers who flee abusive employers and seek other work become undocumented under Saudi Arabia's sponsorship system, which bans migrants from changing jobs or leaving the country without their employer's permission.

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