US Reacts to Report, “Indian woman’s arm ‘cut off by employer’ in Saudi Arabia”

Kasturi Munirathinam recovering in the hospital/

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Washington, DC – The United States said it didn’t have information on reports that an Indian domestic servant had her Saudi employer “cut off her arm” when she was trying to escape, having been locked in but denounced it in unequivocal terms.

Earlier Kasturi Munirathinam, an immigrant domestic worker said she “understood that they are going to harm me” before her employer locked her in. She said she tried to escape through a window, using saris as a rope and then her employer saw and “cut off my hand.”

Calling it a “sad case,” Helaena White, Spokesperson for Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) at the US Department of State told IAT, “We recognize that domestic workers – most of whom are women and girls – face significant challenges in exercising and realizing their labor rights, negotiating or accessing reliable information about the terms and conditions of their employment, or receiving benefits and protections commonly enjoyed by other workers. Because they are often invisible, domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse or exploitation, including human trafficking.

White in her email statement added, “The US government works to protect the rights of domestic workers domestically and internationally. We strongly support the work of the International Labor Organization, its tripartite partners, and civil society to work together to enable domestic workers to receive the protections they richly deserve and to enjoy their rights fully.”

India’s foreign ministry has already complained to the Saudi Arabian authorities following the alleged “brutal” attack on a 58-year-old Indian woman in Riyadh.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj wrote on Twitter: “This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities. Our embassy is in touch with the victim.”

“Chopping of (arm) of Indian lady – we are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” Swaraj added.

According to media reports from Chennai, in the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu, where the family of Munirathinam is based, the family said that her employers had been “angered” after she complained about the “harassment” she was facing at her employer’s home, where she had begun working three months ago.

“Ever since she went to work with this family in July, things were not alright. My mother was not even allowed to speak to us over the phone, she was not given proper food and was forced to work long hours,” her son S Kumar was quoted by BBC Hindi as saying.

“When she tried to escape the harassment and torture, her right arm was chopped off by the woman employer. Now my sister can’t even sit and do simple things on her own, as her spinal cord has also been injured,” her sister S Vijayakumari added.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the Indian Express newspaper that India would “continue to seek justice for the victim”. “Our embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor,” he said.

Thousands of men and women from India travel to Arab states every year to seek work as domestic servants and laborers.

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