Print Edition - 2014-08-22 | Nation
Nepali housemaid returns to tell harrowing Saudi tale
Aug 21, 2014-When thirty-nine-year old Sumnima Thapa (name changed) landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport last week, she had apparently nothing except a poignant account of abuse she faced as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia.
She was trafficked, repeatedly sold, sexually and physically abused and sent home without a penny to spare.
Min Bahadur Magar, a broker from her village in Syangja, took her to Mumbai in India saying that he would send her to the Gulf country. “I was confined inside a room for three months. I was not alone, there were nine other Nepali women like me,” said Thapa, a mother to six children.
She said she was monitored in India by a Nepali Gurung girl married to a Saudi agent. “I along with other women repeatedly urged her either send to us to Nepal or take to Saudi Arabia to earn money,” Thapa said. In Saudi, she had to do multiple works from cleaning toilet to washing clothes. She was often beaten, denied food and water and locked in room.
“My employer abused me physically. I left the house and shifted to another one when everything became unbearable,” she said. But to her shock, she found that her employer had sold her for 20,000 Riyal.
Though her new master never attempted to take advantage of her, Thapa still had to toil day and night in the new house. She fell ill. She wanted to return home but her master would not let her go.
“They finally freed me after I wept days and night, saying I wanted to see my children,” said Thapa. She had saved some money while working for the previous owner, which she used to buy tickets and some clothes for her kids. But her mistress took everything before boarding the plane.
“She robbed Rs 100,000 and everything I had in the bag. I would have started a business with that money,” she lamented.
Thapa is just a case in point. Hundreds of Nepali women return home with scars of mental, physical and psychological abuses abroad.
Nepali Embassy in Riyadh has rescued 158 Nepali women since November last year from across the country after they were economically and physically exploited.
The embassy officials estimate that some 50,000 Nepali maids are currently working in Saudi Arabia though the government has them to go to the country.
Many victims, most of them under 30, have told the embassy officials that their employers confiscated their passports, denied payment or paid them poorly, abused them sexually while keeping them in captivity. Some even said they were denied food and water and were beaten up.
Embassy officials said traffickers are sending many Nepali women to Saudi Arabia via Kuwait, a country which is open for Nepali maids. These women are brought informally through various Indian airports, the embassy sources said.
Published: 22-08-2014 09:04