Lankan maid alleges sponsor poisoned her

Updated 01 June 2014

Lankan maid alleges sponsor poisoned her

A Sri Lankan maid claimed that she was not paid, beaten and poisoned by her sponsor during her stay in Riyadh, according to a report published Friday in Colombo.
W. Amitha Kumari, a mother of two and resident of Iranawila, arrived home on a stretcher and had to undergo several operations on her stomach, according to the report.
Kumari claimed that her sponsor tried to kill her with poison and that she now cannot eat solid food and only have liquids fed through a tube to her stomach.
She claimed that no one came to help her over the last three months in Sri Lanka.
Kumari said she had been sent to the Kingdom by an employment agency. When she arrived in Riyadh, she was allegedly not paid her salary for three months. After arguing with her sponsor, she was given some money to send home to her children, she claimed in the report.
Kumari alleged she was then taken to a place where she had to care for 10 children including washing their clothes and cooking food for them around the clock.
She claimed that she was not paid for three months and that her employer refused to allow her to contact her family.
“I was not allowed to communicate with my family for six months. I didn’t eat food for three weeks because I was angry. They then beat me and threatened to kill me. I fell unconscious and they opened my mouth and forced me to swallow poison claiming it was medicine,” she alleged.
“When they took me to the hospital they told me to tell the doctors that I didn’t take anything. I was afraid for my life so I didn’t tell the medical staff what happened,” she claimed. “I stayed in the hospital for a month and told them that I wanted to go home.”
She said she was eventually put on a plane home with a saline drip still in place. “When I arrived home my husband admitted me to the Ragama hospital. For one-and-a-half months I was not given any solid food with only saline administered,” she said.
“They took many different tests and later I had to undergo surgery. After that they fixed a bag to my stomach and I was only given liquids,” she said.
“The doctors say that I have to undergo more surgery but are delaying it because I am physically so weak,” she said.
“My family is in a severe predicament and even the foreign employment bureau has not come to my assistance,” she claimed. She said she does not have money to educate her children.
Her mother-in-law, Malini Mendis, said that her son was a fisherman but did not make a lot of money. This resulted in her daughter-in-law seeking foreign employment, “but now we are in a worse predicament,” she said.
Mangala Randeniya, spokesman for the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), told Arab News that the case has to be investigated because Kumari has made serious allegations against her sponsor and the job agent. He said the SLBFE would contact the Riyadh embassy to confirm the case.
The labor welfare officer at the Sri Lankan Embassy said that the case was not reported to the mission. “We do not know anything about this matter,” the diplomat said. However, he said that it was possible for such a case to have bypassed the embassy and taken up in Sri Lanka.


Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”