Pathanapuram: Two slices of bread to eat and water from the wash room to drink every day – these were the items that kept Sobhana alive for a week in Kuwait. From early morning to late night, she was engaged in hard work as a maid in a house, where she was regularly tortured. Her only solace was a hidden mobile in which she received calls from dear ones.
Sobhana went to Kuwait to support an impoverished family comprising her husband, who is hearing and speech impaired as well as a heart patient, and two children. What she faced in a foreign land was cruelty that she was not prepared for. Now, Sobhana is back home following the intervention of social activists in her native place and the Kuwait embassy, but her travails are not yet over. The agents who facilitated her trip to Kuwait are threatening her with dire consequences if she does not pay them money which they claim she owes them.
It was on January 31 that Sobhana, of Tekkuvila house, Pallimelil in Alimukku boarded the flight to Kuwait from Nagpur. A woman relative who had arranged the trip was supposed to receive her at the airport. As she did not turn up, Sobhana spent the first day at the agency’s office. On the second day, she was taken to work in a house. The next day, staff of the employment agency arrived and shifted her to another house, where her misery began.
Though Sobhana called the agency people, they not only refused to intervene, but also threatened her. They said she couldn’t return to her native place, but if she still wanted to go, she had to pay them Rs 2 lakh. Left with no option, Sobhana decided to continue in that house.
She was given two slices of bread and a glass of water in the morning. In the evening, her meal consisted of a single kuboos. When she said the food was insufficient, the torture began. It often resembled the third-degree methods adopted by some cops. She was often severely thrashed.
As her clothes were at the house where she had been taken initially, Sobhana could not even change her dress. Though she had a phone, no calls could be made as she was penniless.
Sobhana was, however, lucky on the fourth day. While she was being tortured, a call came from her sister-in-law. By keeping the phone on, Sobhana could make her sister-in-law aware of her plight. Sobhana had kept the phone hidden in her undergarments.
With Sobhana’s misery becoming known in her native place, social activists K Vasudevan and Sreekumar contacted the Kuwait embassy to trace and bring her back. Money for the flight ticket was donated by several well-wishers.
Sobhana is finally reunited with her family, but she is in deep debt. She had taken a loan of Rs 1.50 lakh pledging her hut, with mud walls covered by tarpaulin and tiles, collected another Rs 1 lakh from a number of people and then there is the money for the return flight ticket. On top of all this, the agents are now threatening her demanding Rs 2 lakh. She has complained to the Punalur circle inspector of police against them. Several people are facing the travails she went through, said Sobhana.