22-year-old Durga Bhavani, who went to Bahrain to work as a domestic help, says she was abused, thrashed and made to work for 20 hours day

Last April, when 22-year-old N. Naga Durga Bhavani left for Bahrain to work as a domestic help, she was dreaming to repay loans taken for her elder daughter’s heart surgery.

But destiny had other things in store for her. In Bahrain, she was abused, thrashed and was made to work for over 20 hours a day.

“My passport was taken and it was hell there,” says Bhavani, who came back to Hyderabad on Friday morning with bitter memories and empty hands.

A resident of Vanapalli village in East Godavari district, Bhavani had never heard of a country called Bahrain.

It was Ram Babu, a native of her village and Sudershan from neighbouring Allavaram village, who approached her with the offer.

“I did not even have a passport till that time. My four-year-old elder daughter Munni, who had a heart problem, had undergone a surgery. My younger daughter Kharimunnisa was just five months when I left home,” she recalls. She claims to have paid Rs.15,000 to Sudershan for getting a passport and for processing the application.

On April 6, 2012, she was brought to the city along with 10 other Telugu speaking women.

Documents snatched

“We were assured that our salary would be Rs. 8,000 per month besides food and other benefits. Soon after landing in Bahrain, one Lilly Kumari and Ram Babu, who was already staying there, snatched our passports,” she explains.

They collected all other documents, including boarding pass, ticket booking slips, etc. Ram Babu and Kumari employed me in a house that had 12 rooms, eight bathrooms, two kitchens and over 30 members, she recalls.

“I had to clean the house, wash clothes, help the cook, and take care of children. I used to sleep late in the night and wake up at 5 a.m. I was offered only lunch,” recollects Bhavani.

Vexed with the work, she complained to Kumari and Ram Babu but all she got was broken fingers when Kumari thrashed her. “She said I could not fly back as the employer had already paid the contract amount. Left with no choice, I went to work in another home,” she said.

Things were similar in that house too.

“The house owner used to beat me and shout at me. After working for four months, I made up my mind and escaped from the house. Thankfully, a Telugu person took me to Indian embassy,” she says.

But her struggles continued. In the embassy, they needed her passport or a true copy but she had nothing to produce. It was Migrants Forum in Asia, Bahrain chapter and National Domestic Workers Movement here, which helped her.

“I went to Sudershan to collect a true copy of Bhavani’s passport, but he gave it after two months,” says Lissy Joseph, national coordinator of National Domestic Workers Movement.

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