India said Friday it had lodged a protest with authorities in Riyadh after a maid from Tamil Nadu allegedly had her hand chopped off by her Saudi employer for complaining about her work conditions.
India’s foreign minister deplored a “brutal” attack on 55-year-old Kasthuri Munirathinam, who is now being treated at a hospital in Riyadh, and which comes weeks after a Saudi diplomat based in New Delhi fled the country accused of rape.
“Chopping of (the) hand of (an) Indian lady — we are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which (this) Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter.
“This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities.”
A spokesman for the foreign ministry confirmed that Indian diplomats in Riyadh had lodged a formal complaint at the the Saudi foreign ministry.
Munirathinam, who comes from a village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, had suffered a catalogue of abuse since taking up a post as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia three months ago, according to her family.
“When she tried to escape harassment and torture, her right hand was chopped off by the woman employer,” her sister S Vijayakumari told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.
Footage of Munirathinam lying in her hospital bed was broadcast by several Indian media outlets.
Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup told AFP that Munirathinam was still recuperating in hospital and efforts were being made to bring her home.
“We are in touch with the woman, hospital and the local police authorities. She will get all possible legal and other help from the embassy,” Swarup said.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian migrants work in households in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries but complaints about their treatment by their employers often make headlines back home.
A video showing a male Indian worker being beaten by his Saudi employer went viral in September, sparking a widespread backlash on social media.
There was also widespread anger last month when the first secretary at the Saudi embassy left India under diplomatic immunity after being accused of holding captive and raping two Nepalese maids in his home.