Nayeem* in a voice messageI came here to work in a beauty parlour. But I have only been doing housework for the last three years – from 5 in the morning to 2 in the night. Madam’s son often picks me up and takes me to his room in front of his mother. He forces himself on me. I want to complain, madam and her son beat me. They lock me up. Please help. Please get us out of here.
She was told that she would be given a job at a beauty parlour and took it up hoping to support her ailing mother back home.
Once there however, Nayeem alleges that her kafeela (sponsor), Maha Ayed Turki Anazi, made sure that she never got a chance to even enter the parlour, and was only made to do housework.
Nayeem is not the only one who has become a victim of fraudulent agents sending unsuspecting people to the Gulf, where they are mistreated and abused by their employers.
In this particular case however, a similar story has been repeated with at least two other women and another man.
Majlis Bachao Tehreek spokesman Ajmed Ullah Khan, who has been in touch with Nayeem for a week now, says Aziz is also responsible for duping two other women, Haseena* and Shaheena*, aged 22 and 24, respectively as well as a 25-year-old man. All of them are from the Kalapathar area in Hyderabad and were sent to Saudi Arabia to work under the same kafeela as Nayeem.
As in Nayeem’s case, Haseena and Shaheena were told that they would be working in a beauty parlour. But they too were made to do housework, Ajmed Ullah says. The man, Yakub*, was told he would be given a driver’s job, but is also working as a domestic helper.
“These people are very cruel. They make us work so much but give us nothing, and no time to eat. She is very cruel to the younger girls also. They’re from poor families too, and they’re very scared. If he (Yakub) tries to help us, madam makes him do housework too. She doesn’t even pay us properly,” says Nayeem in a voice message to Ajmed Ullah Khan.
In the numerous voice messages that Nayeem sent Ajmed Ullah, Nayeem talks about her desperate situation, her voice breaking often. She even alleges that Anazi is running a racket of selling girls.
“She ( kafeela) runs a business of selling girls. She doesn’t want the word to get out. If we try, she will beat us. She threatens us, saying that she will give us to another man,” Nayeem narrates. “Forget about going back to India, madam threatens us,” she adds.
Nayeem also alleges that four months ago, another housemaid, 45-year-old Farida*, had run away from her kafeela’s house because of her mistreatment. Nayeem says that Farida is currently in Riyadh jail because of a false case Azazi filed against her.
Nayeem says that there is no one who can help her: “If we go to the police, they will never speak in our favour. If we try to contact the agent, he says his job was only to take us to the airport. What happens to us after that, it doesn’t matter to him.”
On Tuesday, Ajmed Ullah Khan wrote a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and also contacted her on Twitter, highlighting the plight of the three women and Yakub.
He received a response from the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia soon after, saying that they were contacting the kafeela and her family.
Nayeem somehow fled the house on Tuesday night and is currently at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.
Ajmed Ullah says that he has not been able to get in touch with Shaheena and Haseena since Tuesday. While Nayeem’s messages do not say if the two girls were also sexually abused, Ajmed Ullah says that it is very rare for women to come out and state it, even though it is common for migrant workers in the Gulf.
There has been no police complaint so far against the agent in question, Abdul Aziz. Ajmed Ullah informs that Shaheena and Haseena’s parents had earlier gone to the police to complain against him, “but as it often happens, the police say that they will take action, but little happens against these fake agents.”
(The story first appeared on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.