Monday, June 15, 2009

Case #2: A victim up close

An Indian lady was beaten by her 'mama' and not fed for days on end. She was not allowed to cook Indian food for herself because it would 'stink' and also the family would not give her any of their own leftovers, instead throwing them away in the garbage.

The victim, being an Indian Christian, would pray with her head covered in a veil as is the custom. She would receive beatings from her 'mama' because this was 'the Muslim way to pray'.

Once, on being able to contact the police to come rescue her from her imprisonment, the officer instead beat this woman before returning her to her employers. The lady - with no food and no hope of rescue, strung together blankets to escape via the 3rd floor window. It was raining - she fell almost immediately.

We saw her in Al Razi, crying because of her two daughters left back home, her dead husband and the fact that she had no salary to show for months in Kuwait and was unable to work anymore. She had broken both legs, her jawline and nose was broken as well.

When we talked to her employers on the phone, they were diplomatic, friendly, spoke English well - an 'educated' family - with combined American citizenship. They claimed they had done everything for her but she was mentally unstable and had tried to commit suicide. After talking to her for over 3 months it became clear to me that the lady was not crazy at all. She was in fact wasting away from lack of food.

When Al Razi discharged her (still unable to even walk) they did not give her crutches. There is a fund for it but Al Razi has for some reason stopped. She was simply taken to jail. How she moved even a little bit I don't know - because there was a wound on her leg that was in danger of being infected.

Below are pictures of the injuries she sustained:






Please note the teeth on this X-ray





Although she is slightly better now (we last left her painting pictures of birds and flowers), she is one of thousands employed in Kuwait who have spent their life's savings to come here, only to be broken beyond any further work, returned home unpaid and shamed for life.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I fail to understand the low number of viewers/commentators. This is huge.

Keep posting, you really are an inspiration to all of us.

Jewaira said...

Why don't you also post positive stories of maids that are happy and treated well?

Just as there are thousands as you put it who are abused, there are also thousands who have had great experiences here and remain for many years.

Please show both sides of the issue and also think about the purpose of your campaign.

When you balance your posts with ones on how domestic helpers should be treated and actual cases of those who are at peace, then you are promoting your cause and doing something positive by showing people what is right. (instead of always concentrating on the negative side.

In addition, this is one issue where you can pressure your local MP's about, if you are indeed a Kuwaiti.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nabeel,

Touched by your blog on the suffering of the Indian maid. Is she still in Kuwait and is it possible for any well-wishers to contact her to provide any financial assistance? Would appreciate any update on my email - homeoffice2004@yahoo.com. Thank you.

nabeel said...

anons (heheh!)

thanks so much - i will contact you shortly anon 1.

Jewaira - of course you make a fair point. im sure some individuals must treat their maids well. But because I deal with maid abuse cases I rarely come across anything positive about how well ppl treat their maids.

I have like what - 6 Kuwaiti friends and acquaintances? And they mostly treat their maids well (please note, mostly) but all I could really say about that is 'Mr./Mrs. X doesnt beat the maid, feeds her well and um thats about it'.

That's not bringing awareness to any issue. And its not news that there are a few individuals who are nice in the world - everyone knows that and I feel a post on that would be redundant.

Even if there were good stories about how well ppl treat their maids - these arent exactly things that would come across my radar.

but mostly I dont think I could put good stories up here because Im not trying to lull people into a completely false sense of 'some ppl get it right so we can just get lazy again'.

And im not sure I am convinced that 50 percent do get it right.

Just in the last couple of months my maid's husband was put into jail by his sponsor for a false charge, my maid's friend's 'nice' kuwaiti sponsor wouldnt release her passport to her (she is leaving Kuwait) unless she paid 10 KD to him, my friend who worked at a reputed children's store in Marina Mall was not released when he found a better job, because his female employer liked his work and woudln't let him go. But also would not pay him more than his measly salary. He is an artist - work out the store. My THREE friends who worked for a reputed film school in Kuwait were not paid for three months and now are out on their collective asses - broke but unable to work for free anymore.

If anything Im limited in the 'bad' news I can put up here because I deal only with the abuse of maids. And these stories dont qualify as literal abuse. These are famous stores and companies who would be sued out of their underwear if this was in the US or the UK.

And I have an itchy blogging finger for those guys as well but - hey gotta remain focussed.

Anonymous said...

Jewaira,

Treating your maid well is NOT something one should post, comment on, or write about. It is what's supposed to happen. Nothing extra there, nor is it something to boast about.

So some people treat their maids well. This is only the natural and ideal position any decent person should do.

It's significant to write about a problem that exists, however.

Anonymous said...

Kuwait and Kuwaitis need a wake-up call in regards to this matter. There are extreme cases of inhumane treatment - inhumane conditions in Kuwait. One of them is the "Bidoon" issue, which leads to thousands of families, born and raised in Kuwait, to be hugely repressed through denial of basic human needs.

The other is treatment of domestic workers. The core problem, in my view, goes back to how these groups are perceived within the Kuwaiti society.

To us, they are inferior .. intellectually and financially, which somehow leads many to think that they should only be in a position to be thankful. Thankful merely to be in Kuwait, thankful for scraps, thankful not to have been beaten or yelled at, thankful for free food or attire.

It's disgusting.

We all - as people - deserve equal treatment as something that would preserve our dignity.

I am hoping that you're getting some support after such eye-opening posts.

The third problem, which I feel deserves a lot of attention, is women repression. But that's another story and inaccessible due to its internalized nature.

Keep up the good work Nabeel.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nabeel,

Your blog is a voice in the wildreness. Is there a way to help this poor Indian Maid.

Please do inform me, how to do so. You can contact me at geogm77@gmail.com. Thank you

LailaMarafie said...

Hello, I can't believe I just came across your blog a day before I leave for the Global Changemakers conference in Jordan. We are going to discuss the issue of violence against domestic servants and expats. Can you email me please so that I can give you details regarding our project? I'd love it if you could join us once we get back because a lot of the information will help us present the case to the MPs. My email is lilymarafie@gmail.com