Doctors removed 13 nails and five needles from a Sri Lankan woman who says the couple she worked for in Saudi Arabia hammered them into her body.
L.G. Ariyawathi, who was hospitalized with severe pain after returning Saturday from Saudi Arabia, has said the family she worked for punished her by heating the nails and needles before sticking them into her. X-rays have shown that she had 24 nails and needles in her body, said Dr. Keerthi Satharasinghe of Kamburupitiya hospital, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from the capital, Colombo.
The nails ranged in length from one to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) while the needles were about one inch (2.5 centimeters). They were removed from her legs and forehead.
"The surgery is successful and she is recovering now," said Dr. Satharasinghe after a three-hour procedure.
He said six more needles which are in her both hands could not be removed as such an operation could harm her nerves and arteries but that they would not be harmful to her.
Since being admitted to hospital, Ariyawathi has described the abuse meted out by her employers.
"They (her employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body," the 49-year-old was quoted as saying in the Lakbima, a newspaper published in the local Sinhalese language.
She told the paper that she went to Saudi Arabia in March but has been paid only two months' salary, with her employer withholding the rest to buy an air ticket to send her home.
About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, many as maids or drivers, in order to earn more than they can in their own impoverished country. Nearly 400,000 of these work in Saudi Arabia alone.
Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Bureau said that Ariyawathi had been too afraid to complain about the abuse to Saudi authorities, fearing that her employers might not let her return home.
Even the normally uncomplaining Sri Lankan authorities are pushing for action from the Saudis on this one:
Lankan Justice Ministry sources told Arab News on Friday that legal counsel would be provided to the maid to file a case in Saudi Arabia over the incident.
"The Bureau (of Foreign Employment) will make all arrangements to take her to Saudi Arabia to testify," said L.K. Ruhunuge of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.
The matter may also be taken up with the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations, Lankan officials added....
The Lankan government has reportedly forwarded testimony from the maid to Saudi authorities.
No response yet.