A Sri Lankan woman, LP Ariyawathie, who worked in Saudi Arabia as a maid for a private residence was tortured by her employers. She has had thirteen nails and five needles removed from her body. X-rays show there are at least 6 more nails in her body. Ariyawathie, who is a 49-year-old mother of three, had traveled to Saudi Arabia in March of this year to work as a maid. She told doctors that the injuries were inflicted over the course of a month by her employers as punishment. She returned to Sri Lanka last week.
Kingsley Ranawaka, who is Chair of Sri Lanka’s Bureau for Foreign Employment, told the BBC that the Sri Lankan government has “launched a strong protest with the Saudi government through the external affairs minister, but there has been no response yet.” According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, “the local employers in these countries are hardly ever prosecuted for their severe criminal acts against domestic workers,” reported Lanka Business Online.
Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are currently limited on a number of fronts including marriage rights, freedom to travel, property ownership, education, and work. At a meeting in 2009, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council urged Saudi Arabia to actively work to end pervasive human rights violations in the country, particularly those against women and children.
According to Agence France Presse, approximately 1.8 million Sri Lankan citizens, about 70 percent of whom are women, work abroad, primarily as housemaids in the Middle Ease, Singapore, and Hong Kong.