25-year-old woman from India, working as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia, was tortured to death by her employer, the woman's family claims. However, the Saudi hospital where she had been treated says she died of "natural causes."
Asima Khatoon from Hyderabad died in Saudi Arabia last Thursday while undergoing treatment for Tuberculosis, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. But the family is citing torture as the reason for her death. Calling it a case of human trafficking, the deceased mother is demanding action againsts agents who are conning people by promising jobs to young women and leaving them to their fate once they get their money.
According to ANI news agency, Asima had managed to sneak a call to her family two months before her death to blow the whistle on her ill treatment at the hands of her employer, Abdul Rahman Ali Mohammed. They said the young woman complained of being harassed both physically and mentally, and begged her parents to help her get back to India as soon as possible.
"In April, Asima called us and complained that she was tortured and harrased by the employer's family as result of which she fell ill and died. They kept her locked up and opened the door in the evening," her mother Ghosia (pictured) told The Hindu.
The Telangana state government sent a request to the Ministry of External Affairs asking for help in repatriating the woman, Indian media report.
It was a call from an unknown source that informed relatives in India she had died at the King Saud hospital for chest diseases. Her sole phone call appears to be the only word anyone had received from the woman since her departure for Saudi Arabia. The Indian police said they were investigating the case. Inspector Ramesh told the media:
"She went there for work. She worked there for four months, but thereafter she developed some health issues. We don't have confirmation about the incidents. We have written a letter to the Saudi consulate by secretariat on behalf of the state government,"
The Indian embassy sent one of its officials to the hospital where Asima had been treated to inquire about her death. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said as cited by the Hindu:
"He [the embassy official] was told by the mortuary in-charge that she was admitted to the hospital on April 27 and later on shifted to the ICU. Her death was due to natural causes and he was informed that all the requisite documents had been handed over to the sponsor for submission to the embassy,"
Asima’s death certificate specifies that she died due to "disseminated TB and multi-organ failure," the spokesman said.
"Now, the government should help us in bringing back the body so that we can perform the burial here," Ghousia sobbed.
Social activist Jameela Nishath of Shaheen Women's Resource and Welfare Association said that she would be staging a demonstration near Charminar Bus stand today to highlight the 'torture and harrassment' being meted out to housemaids from the city who are working in Gulf countries.