"They told me they would slit my throat if I screamed"

BLACK SLAVERY is alive and well in Saudi Arabia where African and Asian maids work in terrible conditions. Their most fundamental rights are violated and they are held against their will, humiliated, sometimes even tortured.

BBC LP Ariyawathie, 49, said her employer in Saudi Arabia inflicted the injuries as a punishment, according to medics at Kamburupitiya Hospital, Sri Lanka.

“She was brought in complaining her Saudi employer drove nails into her body,” said hospital director Prabath Gajadeera. “X-rays showed that there were 24 nails and a needle.” The nails were up to two inches (5cm) long, said Mr Gajadeera. There is one nail on the forehead, just under the skin,” he added.

Ms Ariyawathie, a mother of three, travelled to Saudi Arabia in March to become a housemaid.

Surgeons are expected to try to remove the metal objects from her body on Friday. Sri Lankan authorities have told journalists in Colombo that an investigation has been launched.

Around 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, 70% of whom are women. Most work as housemaids in the Middle East, while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Last week, she flew back to Sri Lanka and was admitted to hospital in the south of the island, where she told doctors she had undergone abuse for more than a month.

“When we checked her, we found 24 metal pieces in her legs and hands. She still can’t properly sit down and walk,” Dr Kamal Weerathunga told BBC Sandeshaya.

Doctors said Ms Ariyawathie was deeply traumatised and unable to give full details of her experience.

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