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Wed 18 Mar 2015 11:35 AM

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Bahrain migrant worker court decision branded “unfair”

Appeal decision ordered a housemaid to pay almost $1,600 to her former employer

Bahrain migrant worker court decision branded “unfair”
(Getty Images - for illustrative purpose only)

Workers’ rights activists in Bahrain have hit out at an “unfair” appeal decision that ordered a housemaid to pay almost BD600 ($1,600) to her former employer.

Sri Lankan housemaid Sushila Jayathilaka, 51, alleged that she suffered 10 months of physical and verbal abuse by her former employer. But the employer filed a counter claim against her for alleged breach of contract, reported the Gulf Daily News.

The court at first instance upheld the employer’s claim, and this week the High Criminal Appeals Court also upheld the original verdict.

Jayathilaka has been living in a shelter for three years pending the outcome of the case, which was filed with the support of the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS).

She has now been instructed to pay BD590 plus almost BD70 in court fees.

“After fighting the case for almost two years now, we are shocked at the verdict,” MWPS general secretary Beverly Hamada reportedly told the newspaper.

“This is, in our opinion, an unjust decision... How does anyone expect a domestic worker, who has been out of job for almost three years now, to pay such an amount?”

Mother-of-three Jayathilaka first came to Bahrain in January 2011. She claimed that after just three months she was being subjected to abuse, forced to work in two homes and a salon and barely given any food to eat, the newspaper reported.

It also said MWPS chairwoman Marietta Dias criticised the way the case had been conducted. For example, during the course of the hearings, the organisation reportedly learned that the woman’s original complaint was missing from her file.

“We had to go to the police station four times before we could get the letter,” she said.

“We need help from those who have a heart, to help this woman reach home.”

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