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Updated: November 23, 2012 17:34 IST

Not a penny in hand despite 21 years of labour

Marri Ramu
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A. Satyavati
A. Satyavati

Satyavati was treated like a slave by her employer in Bahrain

This is yet another heart-rending story of a poor woman’s journey abroad for greener pastures turning traumatic.

For 21 years, Akana Satyavati lived almost like a slave in the houses of an employer in Bahrain. Having run from pillar to post in Bahrain to come back home for the past several years, she finally landed here on Thursday. She couldn’t save a single rupee even after 21 years of sweat and toil.

All that the woman from Gondi village of Sakhinetipalli mandal in East Godavari district carries with her are painful memories of losing the prime of her life thousands of miles away from family. “I flew to Bahrain when I was 42 years old with full energy and vigour. Now I am here, a physical wreck. The only thing that makes me happy is that I am finally with my family,” she broke down. Victimisation started in her life in 1991 when the broker, who collected money assuring her a job in Kuwait, told her on reaching Mumbai airport that she was being sent to Bahrain instead. Ms. Satyavati, an illiterate, was helpless and could not even protest. She silently boarded the flight and landed in Bahrain.

Since she had earlier worked in Kuwait as domestic help and returned home with some savings, she hoped to provide a better life to her five children by saving money for their future. All her dreams were shattered as her employer didn’t even complete the formalities of getting her residence permit and passport renewed. She served her employer and his 11 children for 21 years. While the employer’s children grew up, got married and settled in life, her own children here didn’t even know whether she was alive.

On being informed by some Telugu people working in Bahrain that they spotted her once there, her son Srinivas flew to Bahrain in 2002 on work permit. While working there, he started looking out for his mother and finally traced her. But Satyavati’s employer refused to let her return to India and threatened Srinivas with imprisonment. “With the help of her son, she even approached the Indian Embassy in 2007 and again in 2011, but couldn’t secure any support,” P. Laxman, faculty member of the Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, said.

Mr. Laxman conveyed the pathetic story of Satyavati to Migrant Workers Protection Society, a voluntary organisation in Bahrain, through another Hyderabad-based organisation Migrant Rights Council. The Society took up her case with the Indian Embassy. Finally, she returned to Hyderabad. For Satyavati, the harrowing times are over and a new chapter begins in her life at the age 63.

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Government should do everything atleast for such people. I hope someone sues the Indian government for not helping this hapless woman sooner.

from:  Sridhar Reddy
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 10:18 IST

Indian embassy should have taken appropriate action when the old lady's
son approached him for help. Her employer should be punished severely so
that such acts are not encouraged by other employers. Does Hindu cant do
any thing to provide justice to such people, rather than highlighting
this in the National daily

from:  satya
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 07:34 IST

Their laws and religion was once the greatest slave-trading enterprise
in history. This is merely a continuation of that. Partly explains why I
consider this part of the world to be filled with barbarism that should
be straightened out once oil runs out...

from:  Akshat
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 03:30 IST

In heinous cases like this, the journalists should almost be duty-bound to indulge in 'naming and shaming'. This would accomplish the social goal and complete the story-rather than the reader wonder who the perpetrators could be.

from:  Rishi Tarun Khar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 02:15 IST

The inaction on the part of Indian Embassy since 2007 needs severe condemnation. It confirms that incompetent bad elements are posted there. This is the fate of the nation.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 02:03 IST

Very sad story; I do not understand why the Indian Embassy could not help the poor
lady earlier. If the story indeed is true, the Indian Embassy must take up this case
and try to get the lady compensation from her cruel employer.

from:  Sathya
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 01:38 IST

For the Indian government Indians are not worth a penney and for the people of India it is the same, exploitation either for teh vote bank of slavery, india has no guts to come up with a law that help these poor and Arab nation confiscate their pasport which belongs to the Indian government and no action is taken bij the Indian government and the indian embassyu do not care if Indians die in the Dessert.
Shame, shame, shame on India who wants to be a super power.

from:  stuart
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 01:11 IST

such a heartrending story...at the same time..my blood boils at the plight of this
Indian woman who was exploited for 21 years by an inhuman leach...the Indian
embassy should intervene and make sure that the woman gets more than her due
from her employer....illiterate and ignorant employees seeking greener pastures
abroad should be informed about their basic rights and advised to get in touch with
the Indian embassy in case of any problems...

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 23:19 IST

Very sad and shocking, how many more Satyavati's are there in the Middle East. Re Indian embassy or consulate, less said the better.

from:  Hari Nair
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 23:14 IST

Tragic. First thing. Brokers act brazenly and openly and covertly. Community knows,
but keeps silent. Some in authority know. They collude. Government at the highest
level should act and guide. As to Middle East: better not go. You lose at the end of at
all.

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 23:14 IST

Exploitation by greedy brokers is not uncommon in India especially taking gullible people like Mrs Satyavati, people like her ex-exployers should be held responsible for treating her like a slave, unfortunately Indian Embassy/Consulate staff have no teeth in the Gulf to put across to their counterparts regarding the plight of victims if this was an American or British national going thro this Action would have been Immediate by Bahraini officials - Indian Staff are there to renew passports & issue visas only and not to forget to go shopping for their own benefits this is not a figment of my imagination but the Truth of whats happening in the Middle East, External Affairs Ministry should step in and Help victims of maltreatment and slavery which is rampant in most Gulf countries, Im not generalising that all Gulf residents are bad but the few who are should be brought out to the limelight and punished appropriately - Thank You

from:  S Shenoy
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 21:49 IST

Indian embassy should take lead on promoting awareness For uneducated people who travel out of country for work. This such an abuse. India gets more than 30 Billion dollars of remitiance every year. Mr Government dont just keep that money use atleast some of it to people who send that money.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 20:51 IST

This is bonded labor. Can we find out if there are more people? Maybe a
create a directory of Indians residing in Arab countries with the help
of Indians there. That would help track people. Just take down the name
and location and put it up on the website. If possible a picture from
the phone too. We can help design the website. It needs to be voluntary
though.

from:  Arindom Baidya
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 20:50 IST

Why do we have embassies if they are not bothered about helping our citizens abroad?
They allowed a poor illiterate woman to suffer for five years. They must take up the matter
with the highest levels of the government and demand compensation from the employer.
Will Baharin treat a citizen of any Western nation like this?

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 20:40 IST

Dear Ministry of External Affairs:

Isnt it situations like this when you should be coming into the
picture summoning the ambassador of Bahrain about the safety of our
citizens in their country and legally facilitate the recovery of
Satyavathi's missing pay for the last 2 decades and fine the Baharini
employer for human rights violations, and torture.
A suggestion:
May be The Hindu's upcoming 'Centre for politics and public policy'
should have competent volunteers to facilitate cases like these. Whatever done and said, lack of the Indian governments reaction to this issue is nothing but showing its apathetic attitude towards the citizen.

from:  Raju Bhupathiraju
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 20:11 IST

Very pathetic.I feel very sorry for this lady. Hope the authorities take necessary steps to get her money back.

from:  Kirthika
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 19:53 IST

The article pin points the desperate need for education for everyone. nowadays a simple google search reveals lots of dodgy companies who cheat people with promises for better future. I can understand what Ms. Satyavathi must have gone as i had come across few people with similar stories in saudi arabia(got cheated by agents), in some cases educated people working as camel sheperds.
Indian government must take required action as many people are exploited this way in the Gulf states.

from:  John
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 19:30 IST

Exploitation of laborers are so much prevalent that the
Embassies/Consulates must find out better solutions to immediately get
the affected workers to return to their native countries.

from:  chandrasekaran
Posted on: Nov 23, 2012 at 18:06 IST
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