Tag Archives: India

Indian Maid’s Arm Cut Off by Saudi Boss, Says Sister

Housemaid has her hand chopped off by female Saudi Arabian employer after complaining to authorities she had been tortured and deprived of food
  • Kasturi Munirathinam was working as a cleaner in Saudi city of Riyadh
  • Her arm was cut off, allegedly by her employer after she tried to escape
  • Indian cleaner claims she had been tortured and deprived of food 
Kasturi Munirathinam, originally from the south Indian city of Chennai, had been earning £150 a month while working a cleaner for a household in the Saudi capital.

Kasturi Munirathinam, originally from the south Indian city of Chennai, had been earning £150 a month while working a cleaner for a household in the Saudi capital.

By TOM WYKE FOR MAILONLINE

An Indian housemaid had her hand hacked off allegedly by her female employer in Saudi Arabia and has complained she has been tortured whilst working in Riyadh.

Kasturi Munirathinam, originally from the south Indian city of Chennai, had been earning £150 a month while working as a cleaner for a household in the Saudi capital.

Since she started working in Riyadh, she said she had been tortured and deliberately deprived of food by her employers. 

Her family said that when Ms Munirathinam tried to escape, her employer decided to punish her and cut off her hand.

‘When she tried to escape harassment and torture, her right hand was chopped off by the woman employer. She fell down and sustained serious spinal injuries,’ her sister, S Vijayakumari, told the Press Trust of India.

‘The incident happened after… she complained about torture and non-payment of wages by her employer.’ she said.

Ms Munirathinam was taken to hospital in Riyadh and her condition has now reportedly stabilized.

A video has emerged on social media, allegedly showing the moments after Ms Munirathinam was attacked.

Since she started working for Riyadh, Kasturi Munirathinam alleged she had been tortured and deliberately deprived of food by her employers

Since she started working for Riyadh, Kasturi Munirathinam alleged she had been tortured and deliberately deprived of food by her employers

Ms Munirathinam was taken to hospital in Riyadh and her condition has now reportedly stabilised

Ms Munirathinam was taken to hospital in Riyadh and her condition has now reportedly stabilised

‘I pleaded with the lady not to harm me but she kicked me, punched me and cut off my arm. I want to go back home. Please help me,’ she says in the video according to the Times of India.

‘Kasturi’s employer was angered after she apprised local officials about the harassment she was facing there, she was not even provided food,’ her sister S Vijayakumari told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister for internal affairs, tweeted about the woman’s plight in Saudi Arabia.

‘Chopping of hand of Indian lady – We are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,’ she wrote.

It is thought Ms Munirathinam sought work in Saudi Arabia to help earn money for her husband and four children in India.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup has spoken out against the attack on the Indian woman, telling the Indian Express that India had launched an investigation into the attack and will ‘continue to seek justice for the victim’.

‘Our embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor,’ he said.

He said a case of attempted murder should be lodged against the sponsor ‘so that he is punished, if found guilty as per law.’

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India: Sisters Sentenced to be Raped for Brother’s “Crime”

‘I can’t sleep, I’m very scared’: One of two Indian sisters sentenced to rape after ‘untouchable’ brother ran off with a married woman from higher caste reveals her terrifying ordeal

  • Meenakshi Kumari, 23, was sentenced to rape alongside 15-year-old sister
  • Feared un-elected council of upper caste men ordered savage punishment 
  • Brother ran away with married woman with whom he had two-year affair 
  • Family has appealed to India’s Supreme Court and Prime Minister for help 
'I can't sleep, I'm very scared': Meenakshi Kumari, 23, has described how she has been unable to sleep or leave the house for fear of the village elders, who condemned her to be raped after her brother ran off with a married woman from a higher caste

‘I can’t sleep, I’m very scared’: Meenakshi Kumari, 23, has described how she has been unable to sleep or leave the house for fear of the village elders, who condemned her to be raped after her brother ran off with a married woman from a higher caste

One of two sisters sentenced to be raped in India after their brother ran off with a married woman from a higher caste has spoken out about her fear.

Meenakshi Kumari, 23, has described how she has been unable to sleep or leave the house for fear of the village elders – who sentenced her and her 15-year-old sister to rape – sending someone to deliver the punishment.

‘I can’t sleep, I’m very scared,’ she said from a secret location in Delhi, 30 miles from their village Sankrot, in Uttar Pradesh, central India.

‘How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return they will harm dus or rape us. If not today then in the future.

‘Jats never forget and they will not forget this humiliation. They want their revenge. Loving someone is not wrong.’

Meenakshi and her little sister were with their family in Delhi for a wedding when a neighbour called and told them not to return to their village.

The neighbour warned that the un-elected village council, Khap panchayat, dominated by the upper caste ‘Jat’ men, had ordered the two sisters be raped and paraded naked with their faces blackened as punishment for their brother’s actions.

Their brother, Ravi Kumar, 25, from the Dalit caste – historically known as ‘untouchables’ – had been in a relationship with 21-year-old Krishna from the Jat caste for almost two years.

How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return they will harm us or rape us. If not today then in the future.
Meenakshi Kumari, 23

When both families discovered the relationship, they did all they could to keep the two lovers apart.

The siblings’ older brother Sumit Kumar, 28, who works as a constable in the Delhi Police, told his younger brother to end the relationship immediately, as they would never be together.

‘We belong to a lower caste, they are from an upper caste,’ he said.

‘I told him this relationship could never work. We are treated as untouchables but he didn’t listen to me and now we are paying for it.’

Ravi met Krishna two years ago, when she joined his computer classes for children in Khekada, Uttar Pradesh.

They exchanged phone numbers and quickly fell in love. They were on the phone to each other all the time and arranged covert meetings in secret locations.

But when Ravi’s father Naik Dharampal Singh, 52, heard of the relationship he ordered it to end immediately.

Even though Ravi ended the relationship, the pair couldn’t bear to be apart.

Eventually Krishna’s parents started looking for prospective husbands for her but she refused.

‘It was hard for my brother but he understood the situation,’ Sumit said.

‘Her family knew about their relationship before the marriage. They beat their daughter a lot and gave my brother warnings many times.

‘In the end my brother told her to go ahead with the marriage, she had to. She went ahead with the marriage in Haryana but she was very unhappy. They treated her like a maid.

‘So she left and returned home. And that’s when she and my brother started their relationship again.’

Ravi and Krishna had eloped twice before but had returned. Each time Sumit claimed her family beat her.

‘We made him understand it was dangerous. At the end of the day it’d be our family who would suffer. He understood what he was doing, he knew the risks but love took over.

I told him this relationship could never work. We are treated as untouchables but he didn’t listen to me and now we are paying for it.

Older brother Sumit Kumar, 28

‘When the girl got in touch with him he just couldn’t contain his emotions. We are now helpless. His future is ruined completely and our family is in danger.’

Krishna’s family was so furious that the couple had eloped again they told the police Ravi was involved with drugs. When they were caught in Delhi at the end of May, Ravi was arrested and has been in Meerut Jail ever since.

Meenakshi and her family were already in Delhi when a neighbour called them to tell them it’s not safe to return to their village called Baghpat, in Uttar Pradesh, 30 miles from Delhi. It has approximately 250 Dalits compared to 7,000 Jats.

Meenakshi said: ‘My father got a call from a neighbour and told us not to come back. They said that the Khap panchayat – that are all Jats – took the decision to rape my sister and me and parade us naked. They want revenge.

‘It is wrong. We did nothing wrong so why should my sister and me be punished. They loved each other and it is they who decided to go. Why should we suffer?

‘We have not left the house, as we are scared they might send someone to attack us. I am finding it very difficult to cope. I am very scared.

‘People today are still living in the caste system; it’s the root of everything here. Right now I do not have any hopes, our future is ruined.’

Family bond: Meenakshi (pictured) and her little sister were with their family in Delhi for a wedding when a neighbour called and told them not to return to their village, as the village elders had ordered their punishment 

Family bond: Meenakshi (pictured) and her little sister were with their family in Delhi for a wedding when a neighbour called and told them not to return to their village, as the village elders had ordered their punishment

Sumit said: ‘I am still in shock that the Khap panchayat could be so disgusting. I knew it was going to be bad, I knew our family would be in trouble but I never expected this. The situation is getting worse and I do not see any hope.’

India’s Supreme Court has ruled that these village councils – known as panchayats – are illegal, but they continue to operate across India.

The family has appealed to the Supreme court for protection and Sumit has written to the Prime minister, Chief minister, Human Rights commission, schedule caste commission but no one has come forward to help yet.

Ravi got bail on June 26 but the family made the decision to keep him in prison because his life would be in danger if he was out on the streets.

Horrific tradition: India’s Supreme Court has ruled that these village councils – known as panchayats – are illegal, but they continue to operate across India. Pictured, the Ganges River in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 

Horrific tradition: India’s Supreme Court has ruled that these village councils – known as panchayats – are illegal, but they continue to operate across India. Pictured, the Ganges River in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Family’s lawyer Rahul Tyagi, 39, said: ‘We’ve been everywhere asking for action but nothing has been done. So now were are at the Supreme Court.

Where caste is concerned it is wrong, and this is all based on caste. But there is no caste in love.
Meenakshi Kumari, 23

‘We’ve asked a few things. No one has seen the girl so we are asking that the girl be produced before the court so we can ensure her safety and well being. We’ve also asked for an independent investigation into the false accusation of the boy.

‘And thirdly, a case should be registered against UP police for torturing the Dalit family and finally some security so the family can return to their home. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will come down heavily on these cases; I have every faith in the judicial system of this country.

‘These cases happen often in rural India. After media attention local politicians have come forward but still the family are in danger. But these cases would not happen in this country if the police act appropriately and did their job. The government officials have a duty to stop such atrocities.’

Meenakshi said that no one has seen Krishna since May and it is believed she is now allegedly saying that Ravi and Sumit held her captive for 10 days in Delhi and raped her.

Meenakshi said: ‘She is now saying that my elder bother Sumit and Ravi raped her for 10 days. She is saying that Ravi told her that he would get her a job in Delhi because his brother is in the police so she came with him and there they forced her to have sex.

‘But they have pressurised her. I know she loved my brother a lot. Loving someone is not wrong. But the girl is Jat and we are the untouchables.

‘Where caste is concerned it is wrong, and this is all based on caste. But there is no caste in love.’

India: 200 Children Rescued in Hyderabad Raids

Child laborers

Children walk through a mustard field carrying sacks of dried leaves near Gauriganj town in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh January 16, 2012. About 200 forced child laborers were rescued during raids in Hyderabad. Reuters

  @howardkoplowitz h.koplowitz@ibtimes.com

More than 200 child laborers were rescued by Indian authorities during early morning raids in Hyderabad that led to the arrests of 10 people, according to New Delhi-based television station NDTV.  The police were intending to target people with long criminal histories when they stumbled upon the children.

The children, as young as 6 years old, were from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Briar in northern India and were making bangles and leather products, according to NDTV. They were brought to Hyderabad after their captors paid their parents 20,000 rupees ($325.)

Some of the children had untreated wounds and were kept in filthy conditions. About 500 police participated in the raids. NDTV only identified one of the people arrested: Yasin Pehelwan.

A few girls were among the child laborers, according to NDTV editor Uma Sudhir. She tweeted that the children were kept in crowded rooms “like rats in holes.”

About 4.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are believed to be working in India, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Labor. About 70 percent work in agriculture, another 17.5 percent perform industrial work like breaking stones and stitching soccer balls and 13 percent work in the services industry like tourism, construction and domestic service.

While forced child labor is illegal, India allows children under the age of 14 to work.

“Basic legal protections for children remain weak,” the U.S. Labor Department report found. “Legislation to prohibit work by children under the age of 14 and to proscribe hazardous work for children under 18 was introduced in Parliament in 2012 but has yet to be passed.”

 

Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi has long campaigned against child labor

During the three decades he has worked to free thousands of children laboring in dank mines and factories throughout India, Kailash Satyarthi has been shoved, kicked, threatened with deadly weapons and beaten numerous times.

His family hoped that he would cut back on child-trafficking raids when he turned 60, but just last month he directed the rescue of 23 children from a tiny basement factory in New Delhi. On Friday, the longtime advocate was sitting behind a desk at his small office in the capital when he learned from a journalist’s telephone call that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi, the first Indian-born recipient of the honor, will share the award with Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani who became an education activist after the Taliban shot her on her way to school.

Satyarthi said it was a “great honor” and a “happy moment” for India, as well as for the children he had long worked to save. In a brief interview, he called for the “globalization of human compassion.”

“I am quite hopeful that this will help in giving greater visibility to the cause of children who are the most neglected and most deprived, and that this will also inspire the individuals, activists, governments, business houses and [corporations] to work hand-in-hand to fight it out,” he said. “The recognition of this issue will help in mobilizing bigger support for the cause.”

News of the award set off a raucous celebration at Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) office and a ripple of national pride throughout India.

The joy was tempered by critics who said they resented the Nobel Prize committee lumping India’s honoree with Pakistan’s, as if the adversarial nations were parties in an arranged marriage. Yousafzai later said that she and Satyarthi had spoken by phone and agreed that they would invite their respective prime ministers to the awards ceremony in Oslo.

Experts predicted that Satyarthi’s long-shot honor — he was chosen over favorites including Pope Francis — would probably focus attention not on geopolitical affairs but India’s still-endemic problem of child labor.

In India, children are not allowed to work in industrial jobs or other hazardous fields, but an estimated 50 million still toil in industries that make fireworks, carpets, bangles and bricks. A law banning all labor for children under 14 is still languishing in Parliament. Denizens of India’s rising middle class have been known to hire underage nannies or domestic servants.

“Indians have accepted these practices over the years, but we hope that this prize will prick their conscience, too,” said Swami Agnivesh, chairman of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front and an early mentor of Satyarthi’s.

Satyarthi is an iconoclast, fighting against widespread social tolerance for child labor in India, where many argue that the children would die of hunger if they did not have jobs. He insisted that the children he rescued attend school even as other charities were giving after-school classes for laborers, in a tacit approval of the system.

“His philosophy is that every child should be in school notwithstanding his economic background. He has rejected the theory that poverty drives child labor,” said Bupinder Zutshi, who co-authored the book “Globalization, Development and Child Rights” with Satyarthi in 2006.

Growing up in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Satyarthi has said that he became aware of India’s socially stratified society at age 6, when he noticed a cobbler’s son working every day as he was on his way to school. He asked the cobbler why the son wasn’t in class, and the man told him that he and his son had been born solely to work, Satyarthi recalled in a 2004 interview with The Washington Post.

“The seed was sown that very day,” Satyarthi said.

Satyarthi was born a Brahmin, the highest caste in India’s hierarchical system. In a society in which family names often designate caste, he gave up his true name early on, according to his daughter, Asmita, 29, a business student. He adopted the more neutral Kailash Satyarthi instead, and gave her only one name.

He gave up an engineering career for activism in his 20s and founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan in 1983. He rose to prominence in the 1990s, when he would swoop down on far-flung villages in eastern India — known as the country’s carpet-making belt – for surprise raids on dimly lit basements where children squatted on the floor, working on looms. The children lived with the loom owners and worked for hours for small payments that were sent home to their parents. The rescues, while high-profile and hyped by the local media, were not always successful. Sometimes the poverty-stricken parents preferred their children to be working than in school.

During the 1990s, Satyarthi was instrumental in convincing many European countries to boycott Indian carpets made with child labor. He developed a self-certification label for South Asian carpets headed for export that said they were made without of child labor. In 1994, the certification trademark was called Rugmark; it is now GoodWeave International.

Satyarthi he has received numerous international honors over the years, including the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Yet in India he has received far fewer laurels. He was also accused by many nationalists and others of working against Indian interests, especially in the essential export industry, and of showing the country in a poor light.

“It’s a big moment for us,” said his wife, Sumedha Kailash, 59, who runs a rehabilitation center for rescued children in Jaipur. The couple’s son, Bhuwan Ribhu, 35, a lawyer, also works for the nonprofit center. Its narrow halls are often crowded with anguished parents clutching photos of their missing children. But on Friday, they were filled with jubilant supporters passing out sweets.

Jalees Andrabi contributed to this report.

India: Gang-Rape Victim Dies After Setting Herself on Fire

Demonstrators hold placards during a candlelight vigil to mark the first death anniversary of a Delhi gang rape victim in New Delhi on December 29, 2013.

Demonstrators hold placards during a candlelight vigil to mark the first death anniversary of a Delhi gang rape victim in New Delhi on December 29, 2013.

DEAN NELSON

A 16-year-old Indian girl has died eight days after setting herself on fire following two gang rapes and a campaign of intimidation to force her to drop charges against her attackers.

The teenager’s death, on New Year’s Eve, led to angry demonstrations in Calcutta.

Brinda Karat, one of India‘s leading women’s rights campaigners, accused the local government and police of shielding the alleged perpetrators, who were linked to West Bengal‘s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress.

She said the case showed little had been done to protect sexual assault victims since the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student provoked outrage throughout India one year ago.

The anger of the victim’s family and women’s rights campaigners was compounded when local police tried to cremate her body without the family’s permission.

The girl was first attacked in October in Madhyamgram, near Calcutta, by six men. They raped her again the following day as she returned from reporting the assault at a police station with her father.

The men were arrested but the girl and her family continued to receive threats from their associates. The girl set herself on fire after two associates of the accused arrived at her home and threatened her.

 

Sex Slaves in Cages: Mumbai’s 20,000 Prostitutes

Taken

Taken by Hazel Thompson (takenebook.com)

Guddi was only 11 years old when a neighbour persuaded her father to send her to Mumbai, with the promise of a well-paid job as a housemaid to help feed her family in her poor village in West Bengal in eastern India.

That promise was nothing but a pretext. The neighbour trafficked her to Mumbai’s red light district, and Guddi became one of the estimated 20,000 girls and women plying the streets of Kamathipura.

British photographer Hazel Thompson has spent the last decade investigating the sex trade in India after hearing that women in Mumbai were being held in cages “to break them” before making them work as prostitutes.

She described how prostitutes are indeed sometimes held in cages, without seeing daylight, for up to five years.

The only time they are let out is to service men, she told delegates at the second annual Trust Women conference, organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International New York Times.

“Over the years girls described the box cages to me, saying they couldn’t move in the space,” Thompson said. “These horrors really exist. Slavery is a reality.”

Guddi, a prostitute working in Mumbai’s red light district. Guddi is featured in “Taken” an ebook by British photographer Hazel Thompson, who spent the last decade documenting the lives of prostitutes in Kamathipura, India’s biggest red light district. Photo: HAZEL THOMPSON

The very smallest of these cages, which she described as box cages, are too small for the girls to move in.

“My question is:  ‘Would the men come to these brothels if they knew they were not paying for sex, but paying to rape a slave?’” Thompson said.

Guddi was not put in a cage but when when she arrived at the brothel, she was raped by a client and sustained injuries so severe that she spent three months in hospital.

Her story and that of other child prostitutes is documented in “Taken”, Thompson’s ebook published in October.

The book contains text, images and videos to convey a sense of what life is like in Kamathipura,  established more than 150 years ago during colonial rule as a “comfort zone” for British soldiers.

Thompson first went to Kamathipura in 2002. With the help of Bombay Teen Challenge, a local charity, she went under cover, disguised as an aid worker.

Her fixer was a former street criminal himself and his mother a former prostitute, so he was able to help Thompson “unlock the secrets” of the district.

Thompson found out that the cages were originally built to protect the girls, who were recruited as prostitutes by the British during the colonial period.

The police not only do nothing to stop the trafficking but regularly accept bribes from the brothel owners and give them warnings of raids, Thompson said.

“It is completely a lawless place,” she said, “which the police continue to allow to thrive.”

Thompson last saw Guddi in April. Thompson begged her to leave, telling her  that otherwise she would die there.

“But my life was taken when they brought me here,” Guddi told her.

Thompson’s ebook, Taken, is available on the iTunes store.