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Indian Woman Whose Arm Was 'Chopped Off By Saudi Arabian Boss' Gives Emotional BBC Interview

13/11/2015 14:34 GMT | Updated 13/11/2015 14:59 GMT

An Indian maid who says her arm was completely severed by her Saudi employer has spoken of the moment she woke to find she was permanently disabled.

Kasturi Munirathinam spoke to BBC Newsnight following her return to India, after receiving close to a month of treatment in hospital.

With her husband incapacitated, Kasturi became her household's only source of income after her son was injured at work, eventually prompting her to apply to become a domestic maid in Saudi Arabia - on the promise of a good wage.

indian saudi maid

Kasturi Munirathinam believes she will never work again after the incident

"Agents said they'll take me," she told the programme, "They said I will be paid a lot of money for domestic work."

Kasturi was sent to a family in Riyadh, who promptly took her passport and persuaded her not to leave the home by instilling fear of an attack due to her speaking Tamil, the Dravidian language spoken by millions of Indians.

Despite an initially welcoming reception from the family, Kasturi says her employer quickly began mistreating her, serving old food and taking away her mobile phone charger. Coupled with a lack of Arabic, Kasturi believed she was all but cut off from the outside world and her family back home.

"She wouldn't put a SIM card in my mobile phone," Kasturi said, "She took away the charger".

But when she expressed a desire to leave her employer, she was threatened with arrest. In desperation, Kasturi fled to a neighbouring property where other domestic staff spoke Tamil, only to be found by her employer and dragged back to the house.

"My employer came looking for me. She grabbed me by the hand and took me back home," she told the programme.

saudi maid

Kasturi's version of events has been disputed by police

Soon a threat of violence was made. "She gestured to her neck and made a swirling action with her hand."

It was then Kasturi says she felt compelled to act, gathering together material to make a rope with which to escape the property from a window.

Whilst doing so, her employer approached the window behind her. Kasturi can remember little else other than a "sharp sound".

She later awoke in hospital, to find her entire right arm had been amputated.

Kasturi's version of events is heavily disputed by the Saudi police, who say she suffered mental delusions and chopped of her arm herself.

kasturi munirathinam

Kasturi Munirathinam in hospital

Nonetheless, her story led to condemnation across the world, and to the Indian authorities compensating her and ensuring she could return home safely.

It continues to allow its citizens to work in the Kingdom, unlike Indonesia which has banned migration to the country.

There are around 500,000 Indians working in Saudi homes, and India has sought to improve rights and conditions for its citizens working in the Kingdom. 10% of Indian domestic workers are women.

For Kasturi, there can be only one solution: for India to join other countries in banning its citizens from working in Saudi Arabia.

"Don't go there. We should not give permission to anyone to go to that country," she said.

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