Beaten, starved, I ate garbage to survive: Kerala woman’s Saudi nightmare

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Beaten, starved, I ate garbage to survive: Kerala woman’s Saudi nightmare

Manjusha was made to work for 20 hours a day every day for six months, taking care of a household of 32 people all alone.

Manjusha, 38, from Palode village of Thiruvananthapuram is finally back home bearing the scars of mental and physical wounds she had undergone in Saudi Arabia for last six months. Being beaten and starved Manjusha had decided now that she won’t leave her homeland for any reason now.

She speaks to The News Minute from Chengannur of Alappuzha, where is presently work as a baby sitter and she left her home in Thiruvananthapuram, as she had borrowed money from many there and has to repay it.

“Eight years ago, I lost my husband, he died. For last five years until March 2017 I was working as a sales girl in a shop for Rs 5000 per month. I have two daughters studying school and the money was not even sufficient to meet our daily expenses. That is when I had a plan to go abroad and earn some money that my kids will have a good future,” Manjusha says.

She approached few agencies and it is how she met a person named Manilal who is from Kollam district. He offered her a job at the house he worked as a driver. Later she approached Swirath tours and travels in Thiruvananthapuram and informed about Manilal’s offer. She says she also asked the agency to verify visa and other matters in Saudi.

“Later they issued me tickets and visa two times, where both the times I was not allowed to travel from Cochin International Airport as they cited I did not have an agreement paper. So, dropped the idea of going abroad. Later the travels informed me that I can go through Mangaluru Airport. Finally on March 20 I travelled,” she says.

Manilal and an Arab national who claimed to be her sponsor was waiting for her at Dammam airport (King Fahd International Airport). She says Manilal left the car in between and that is when she recognises he works somewhere else and not in the house where she was taken.

“I had this fear inside me when I realized what he said was lie. My fear was true that I was taken to a huge three floored house with 32 people. Among them 16 were children. There were no maids or domestic help at the house other than me. I had too after the kids, wash all of their clothes, clean that huge house and do every house hold chores. My work would begin at six in the morning and ended at 2 to 3 am next day. I worked for about 20 hours,” she sighs.

But Manjusha was ready to work hard to eran for her kids. But all her hard work went on vain as they did not pay her salary properly.

“They had offered me SAR 1400 (Rs 24,200) when I left from Kerala. But when I reached there they said they would give only SAR 1200 (Rs 20,800). Even I agreed for it. But they did not pay me in the first month. The second month they just send SAR 1000 (Rs 17000)  to my father’s account. Later after two months I cried and begged them to give salary then they gave paid me SAR 1000. This was the only amount I got in six months. I just got two month salary that too not fully,” she says.

Above all what was unbearable for her was the physical and mental torture she had undergone.

“I was asked to lift 20 to 30 kgs of weight daily. Even during my periods I had to do it, may be because of that I used to get 15 to 20 days bleeding. Even if they won’t take me to hospital, they told me its all normal. During those days also I had to work for 20 hours I even decided to die and attempted once. If we are doing some work they would come and kick me for no reason, I fell in to the floor and it hurts badly,” Manjusha weeps thinking about her past.

“Above all they did not give me food, I starved for days. Finally, I had started eating what is left out in their plates when they bring the dishes to me to get it washed. I also started eating from the garbage so that I can survive and go back home,” she recalled in a shivering voice.

Meanwhile Manjusha tried to escape from the house and caught twice. When she was caught second time her employer made her forcefully sign some papers which alter she understood was that agreement on that her all salary was paid.

“I was beaten badly all the time I was caught. Third time I had also contacted an NGO working there for Indians and I escaped. I went to hospital nearby as I was bleeding badly. They also informed  police and police shifted me to a shelter home. I stayed there for about three weeks and was able to return home at last,” she said.

“Now I cant even stay at my place as I have so many debts here, I got for going to Saudi. I will have get money somehow and repay them all. Nothing I gained other than huge debts and a body, mind full of wounds,” Manjusha sighs.

Edited by Rakesh Mehar