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Mon 26 Mar 2012 10:41 AM

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Maid locked up without pay for 17 years in Saudi

Sri Lankan will receive US$19,000 compensation after years of abuse come to light

Maid locked up without pay for 17 years in Saudi
Kusuma Nandina, aged 57, arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1994 and was kept as a slave in her employer’s home. (Image for illustrative purposes only)

A Sri Lankan maid is to receive SAR72,000 (US$19,000) in compensation after being locked up in her Saudi Arabian sponsor’s home without pay for 17 years , it was reported.

Kusuma Nandina, aged 57, arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1994 and was kept as a slave in her employer’s home, Arab News reported.

Aside from not receiving any wages, she was forbidden from communications with anyone, including her family in her home country.

The case apparently came under attention two years ago when Nandina’s 25-year old daughter contacted the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry saying she had not heard from her mother in years.

Upon their initial visit to her sponsor’s home in Riyadh, the owners denied that any domestic helpers were residing there.

After several repeated attempts to find her, Nandina was eventually tracked down.  She is now preparing to head back to Sri Lanka.

The case again highlights the treatment of foreign domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia.

Last year, the Kingdom stopped issuing work visas to helpers arriving from Indonesia and the Philippines, after authorities in those countries demanded increased pay and better working conditions for their citizens.

In response, Saudi officials have said they are seeking to recruit more domestic workers from Ethiopia.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

mumeen chowdhury 8 years ago

What a meagre compensation! Which court decided that? This is an inhuman decision. Firstly, the sponsors should be adequately punished for lying about here whereabouts, treating her as a slave and the inhuman treatment not to pay and contact the outside world; secondly and concurrently, the maid should be first paid a mental and physical abuse compensation of at least USD100,000 and a cumulative 17 years salary, gratuity, plane tickets costs, etc., which should not be less than USD 50,000 (Avg salary of USD200 P.M. x 17 years plus 8 tickets X USD 700 per ticket; plus gratuity of USD200 X 17). Wish any international human rights organization will take up the matter and grant her at least the above compensations.

N Konnola 8 years ago

Sigh - I canot understand why any one would do this. And even the laws dont help this at all. Look at their decision to recruit people from other countries when Indonesia started protesting. explains the mentality - does it not.Justice delayed is justice denied. And the compensation is down right insulting......

Mohammed Mubin 8 years ago

Any problem in the society needs to be addressed with an impartial mind else it will grow further and it becomes a disease which will ruin the country in the long run.

Saudi must address these problems with priority and correct the system. If this reported incident is true (I don't trust media), even a Million Saudi riyals will not suffice for this brutality.

David 8 years ago

Is this the complete story? What happened to the sponsor, was he jailed? Lashed? Punished in any way? Was $19,000 ALL the maid received? This equates to $93.14 per month and if that's all she was given then it's an outright disgrace and yet another blot on Saudi's already tarnished human rights image!

Ghazi Yatim 8 years ago

OMG, what a fortune she is being paid after so many years of abuse and God knows what else this poor elderly woman has endured, is that really justifiable shame on you people!!!!

Chef 8 years ago

Please Ethiopia follow suit!!!!
You simple can not allow your residents to places where there care is not garanteed. Unite and WE will win.
There is no Tit for Tat if we all unite!!
Someones welbeing can not be garanteed that means do not go there. Stop to being this be poverty driven!
Do not sell your dignity!

Mick 8 years ago

You know, off topic, leaving the Mall of Emirates I saw this white SUV (is there any other kind) with Saudi plates and these 3 guys, mid-twenties were dumping garbage (loads of it) from their SUV as they ate their take away while parked in a handicapped spot. If it were a group of Emiratis, I would be sickened also, but think "hey, its their country".
My point being, like this maid situation, who are they accountable to? 19K for 17 years of life lost that can never be given back. Why do expats have no rights (real rights) in KSA? If she were offered over one million USD, it would still be a massive injustice.

Jay 8 years ago

Slavery for 17 years and no contact with her family... and all she gets as compensation is USD 19,ooo ??? Is this a joke? Is this what the Saudi authorities think is her worth?

The international community should demand answers from the Saudi authorities on this case and their handling of it!

This is nothing short of shocking!

P. Est 8 years ago

So that's SR 350 per month, with no tickets home, no annual leave, no overtime for days off etc factored in. And so admirable that the Saudi government ensured these dues were paid in full through this compensation package. Meanwhile, what might have happened to the kidnappers?

Vincent 8 years ago

It really is amazing what some people can get away with in the Middle East. US$19,000 for 17 years of a life of slavery or US$ 93 per month!!!!!
How can anyone imagine that this amount remotely compensates or is even vaguely fair????