Jacintha Maendonca from Udupi was trapped and taken to Saudi Arabia as a maid. Her 14-month ordeal there has sent shock,waves in the state. But now with her return back home, Asianet Newsable has spoken exclusively about the horror she had to face every day in the hands of her owners and his 30-member family!
Jacintha Mendonca dreamt of a stable financial life when she got an offer to work at a madam's house in Qatar. With three children and no one else to support her, the promised Rs 5 lakh per month (25,000 their money), she thought their problems would be solved. But the fate had something horrible waiting for her that she had not even imagined of.
The agent James D'Mello promised matriculation pass out Jacintha of a job in Qatar and after getting the passport ready, she was asked to go to Mumbai in a bus and get down at the VT Station, where a Madam would be waiting for her. Thus she set out to Mumbai on June 10 and reached there on June 11.
When she reached the VT Station, a lady walked to her and asked if she was Jacintha and took her to her house cum office in Mumbai. She was not given any work and was in for a first shock because she was taken to Goa where other two Muslim women joined her on June 17. From Goa, the three set out to Delhi to board a flight.
The Madam agent had told them that the three should tell that they were on their way to Qatar to meet their respective husbands who were working at a burger company. As told, the authorities at the Delhi airport asked Jacintha why was she travelling and not willing to lose the job; she repeated what the agent had taught her.
She was allowed to board the flight, and her flight reached Dubai airport at 4 PM on June 18. Jacintha had to board another flight and waited for her kafila (employer). Then at 7 AM her employer came called out her name, showed her a photo from his mobile phone asking if she was the same person? When Jacintha answered in affirmative, he wrote a number in Arabic on her passport and asked her to get on a flight to Riyadh scheduled at 11 am.
After getting down from the flight, she asked the help of an officer to dial the number. Following this talk, she was asked to wait in a room filled with women who had come in search of the job from various countries.
At 7 am, she was taken out by the daughter of her employer. They got into a car, and after travelling quite a large distance, she was asked to get down at a posh bungalow in Yembu.
They allowed to settle down and did not pressurise her for eight days. Ninth day onwards she was made to wake up at 6 am, and her ordeal started. She had to work to the taste of her owners two wives who had 11 and 16 children respectively. Each child would have a different problem to be addressed and different food demands. She had to meet all of them.
Her day would not even end at 12 am, but she had to clear all the mess up and was allowed to sleep only after 2 am. Meanwhile, she was not given food nor allowed to have anything else. They would ask her to eat whatever was left on their plate. When she resisted, all she got was a stare and an empty stomach.
Soon she made herself get used to the empty stomach (of course with a cup or two of tea and sometimes biscuits). As days passed the two houses of two wives of the owner became a living hell. She would not get any money from them. Instead she had to cry and beg for the money to be sent home.
They would need permission to go to the hospital even if she was sick. There was no excuse from work even when she was not in a state to work. In fact, she also told that they would not give her sufficient water to take a bath.
Domestic workers from India are considered lower than animals and are ill-treated in all possible ways, she said.
This went on for five months, and on November 28 she found a time when she was not surrounded by the family and ran to the Embassy. But due to language barriers, she could not communicate properly. Instead of helping, they called the owners who came and demanded Rs 5 lakh given towards her expense. As neither Jacintha nor anyone there had any money, she was sent back.
Hereafter her life was nothing but a hell. She was beaten up, her head smashed against the wall, her waist damaged and she had to work as well as get beating every day after that.
This went on until August when the frail Jacintha could not take it anymore and fell sick. She had severe health problems. She pleaded them to take her to hospital but to no avail. She was almost on the verge of dying when they admitted her to a hospital on the third day of her sickness.
Her hope in getting out of that hell was rekindled here when she saw an Indian nurse attending her. Jacintha described her pathetic condition and requested her to help her get out of this hell. The nurse was moved by what had happened to Jacintha and promised to help her out.
The nurse immediately called the Indian Embassy, and the call was received by one Roshan Rodrigues. He immediately found out about Jacintha's owners, contacted them and started putting pressure on them to let her go home.
The owners were not budging and said that they had already paid her agent Rs 5 lakh and will leave her only if the money was paid. He spoke to the association he was attached to and collected Rs 3 lakh. He fought with the owners who eventually agreed to allow Jacintha to leave their home after taking Rs 3 lakh.
The nurse and Roshan came like angels to my rescue; I can never forget what they have done for me, says a teary-eyed Jacintha.
The after four days her return ticket was booked, and she boarded the flight to India.
"Please do write about all of it. Because I don't want any other woman suffering like me..." but she also speaks about an unmarried girl sitting in the Embassy with a child and crying continuously. "She was not married when she came here for a job. But then her owner impregnated her, and now she has a child. What will she say at home, what will be her life even after she gets out of that country. I still remember at least ten girls from Bangladesh and other places who had come for work suffering the same plight as me and crying for help."
Now, Jacintha is back with her three daughters. But still, she cannot sleep. She is the sole bread earner of the family with no job. Just finished her hospital check up and with conditions like feeling numb in some parts of her body, swollen face if on stress she is searching for a job here so that the family can eat three meals a day.