Lankan maids in Qatar jail waiting to go home

By W. P. Weerawardene

Some 70 Sri Lankan women are languishing in a Qatar jail, and the Sri Lanka embassy is doing nothing to help them, according to a maid who returned from Qatar last week. She claims she was one of the incarcerated women.

On her return to Sri Lanka on Friday, Ms L. Niluka of Ethumalpitiya told The Sunday Times that she spent five months in prison after being caught by the police, after running away from a home where she was working as a domestic. She said she was compelled to run away because conditions in the Qatar home were intolerable.

Ms. Niluka says there are 70 other Sri Lankan women in the same Qatar jail, and they are waiting for the Sri Lankan embassy to take action so they can return home. Thirteen of the women have their passports ready but still have to serve their jail terms.

According to Ms. Niluka, many Sri Lankan domestic helpers in Qatar are experiencing great hardship. Their employers do no give them regular meals, and sometimes they do not even have water to drink. When they visit the Sri Lanka embassy to lodge complaints, the embassy staff dismiss their stories and tell them to go away, she said.

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