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India demands justice as Saudi employer accused of chopping off maid’s arm

Screen grab of Kasthuri Munirathinam in hospital as shown on TV

By Nita Bhalla

India’s foreign ministry called on Saudi Arabia on Friday to ensure swift justice after a Saudi employer was accused of chopping off the arm of an Indian housemaid working in Riyadh.

The family of Kasthuri Munirathinam, 58, said she told them her employer hacked off her right arm after she complained about harassment and torture after three months of working in the household.

Television pictures showed the victim, from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, lying in a Riyadh hospital with a large white bandage wrapped around the stump of her right shoulder.

“We are very disturbed over the brutal manner in which the Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. “This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said Indian embassy officials had visited Munirathinam in hospital where her condition was stable and also urged Saudi police to lodge a case of attempted murder against the employer.

“The sponsor should be also directed to pay for (the victim’s) on-going treatment. The police chief assured us of a speedy and fair investigation,” Swarup said in a statement.

“We continue to pursue the matter at all levels with Saudi officials to ensure speedy justice for her.”

Last month, the foreign ministry faced criticism from women’s rights activists after a Saudi diplomat accused of repeatedly raping and torturing two Nepali maids in his home outside Delhi was allowed to leave the country.

The women told police they were gang raped, assaulted, tortured and starved while held captive for over three months. The women said they were raped by eight men on one occasion with medical examinations showing evidence of rape and sodomy.

Citing the diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, Indian officials said that Majed Hassan Ashoor, the first secretary at the Saudi embassy, had left India.

 

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org

 

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