Relatives of three women workers stuck in Kuwait move SC

DATE: 13-Aug-2019 Reported By: The Hindu

Two of them are held captive by their employers, the third is lying in a vegetative state in hospital

Last year three women from Tamil Nadu left their homes for Kuwait in search of a better life for their families, but their dreams ended in a nightmare.

Lingamuthu from Ramanathapuram was caught by the Kuwait police while trying to escape months of torture working as a domestic maid.

Her brother, Murugalingam, told the Supreme Court that she was released from police custody by her agent, but he has kept her captive.

Appeals to the Tamil Nadu government and the Indian Embassy in Kuwait have not worked.

It has been over a month since the family has heard from her.

The agent, he said, blackmailed the family to cough up ₹1 lakh for her release. Mr. Murugalingam said he had already paid ₹70,000.

Bonded labour

Erode resident Sadiq Batsha, said his wife, Ayisha Babu, left for Kuwait in May. She is working as a bonded labourer in a house.

Her passport is with her employer and she is fed only once a day but made to work 17-18 hour shifts.

Sumathi from Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district lies in a vegetative state in a Kuwait hospital, her mother told the court. She fell from the third floor of a building while trying to escape from the clutches of her abusive employer. She has damaged her backbone and has multiple fractures.

A Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Ajay Rastogi has asked the government to respond to pleas made by the three families to urgently intervene and rescue the women.

Notice to govt., police

The court recently issued notice to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government and the State police chief on the petition represented by senior advocate Nagamuthu and advocates Prabu Ramasubramanian and Raghunatha Sethupathy.

The government has been asked to respond in six weeks.

The petition also sought the apex court to formulate guidelines and a “workable on-site support system to assist and aid the distressed Indian workers abroad”.

Like other countries, which see a huge flow of migrant workers, India should not differentiate between the ones who have migrated legally and illegally.

“The only thing that concerns the countries of the world in helping the distressed worker is the fact whether they are their citizens and they do not go into the fact of their mode of emigration,” the petition said.

The petition has proposed measures like live monitoring of labourers working in the Gulf countries by the Indian embassies, counselling, daily updates of complaints filed by them in embassies, effective use of ICWF funds to help distressed migrants and monitoring of agents.

The petition submitted that the government policy on international human trafficking was “comparatively weak”.