Kuwait torture victim hits out at Lankan diplomats

By W. P. Weerawardene

A woman who was deported recently from Kuwait says the Sri Lankan diplomatic community continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of domestic workers trapped in jails in the Middle East countries.

She added that women’s rights groups in Sri Lanka should be taking an active interest in the welfare of Sri Lankan women based in the Middle East.

The woman, who requested anonymity, told her story to The Sunday Times on arrival at Katunayake Airport last week. She says she was sexually harassed and beaten by her Kuwaiti employers and then jailed on a false charge of theft.

“It was hell,” she said. “I couldn’t take the harassment any longer and I tried to escape. I was given all the facilities I needed, and asked to provide sexual services. Naturally I refused.

According to the woman, the family reported her to the police when she tried to escape from the house. The woman finally ended up in jail, and found herself among scores of other imprisoned Sri Lankans.
“In the prison where I was held there were more than 70 Sri Lankans. Some of the women had been made pregnant by their employers. No Sri Lankan embassy staff ever visit the Sri Lankans who are trapped in these jails.”

The woman said Indian and Philippines diplomats looked after their women employed in Middle East countries, but not the Sri Lankan missions.

“Why don’t our women’s rights groups get together and do something for the Sri Lankan women suffering in the Middle East? Surely they could send an official to visit these jails and try to ensure that our women are being treated properly and that their rights as women are not being violated,” the woman said.

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