External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia to rescue and repatriate a woman from Hyderabad who has been allegedly facing mental and physical harassment by her sponsor there.

Swaraj’s direction to the Indian embassy officials in Riyadh came via a series of tweets after media reports announced that the woman was deceived by her agents and was now physically harassed by her sponsor.

Who is this woman?

The victim, 39-year-old Salma Begum from Hyderabad, was allegedly sent to Saudi Arabia by two agents on January 21, 2017 on a housemaid visa, Times of India reported. The two agents have been identified as Akram and Shafi.

After reaching Saudi, Salma allegedly called her daughter in India to inform her of the harassment she is facing and that her kafeel (sponsor) would not let her return to India, despite her wanting to return. Her sponsor allegedly paid a sum of Rs 3 lakh for Salma, Financial Express reported.

According to reports, the victim was cheated by her agents who promised her hand in marriage to her kafeel. The harassment began when the victim refused to marry her Saudi sponsor. The victim’s daughter also alleged that local police in India have so far been apathetic and, despite several complaints, have not yet taken any action against Akram or Shafi.

What is Kafala system?

The contentious ‘Kafala’ system is used by GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia to cut domestic labour costs by importing domestic workers from other nations on work visas based upon sponsorship by locals sponsors or ‘kafeels’. 

A migrant worker under the Kafala system cannot leave the host country without their kafeel’s permission. 

(With inputs from PTI) 

Feature Image Source: PTI(file)/Twitter