When she boarded the flight to Qatar as a domestic maid-cum-babysitter in March last year, 43-year-old Preethy Selvaraj, a resident of Njarakkal, had dreamt of giving her three children and husband a better life.
Sixteen months later, she returned home on July 9, bruised and all her dreams shattered. Since then, she has petitioned the Njarakkal police against the two agents who arranged her sojourn in West Asia, accusing them of having sold her for ₹1 lakh to the Arab family that employed her.
“I was promised a job that required me to do household work and take care of children for four hours a day. But in reality, I had to break my back non-stop from early morning hours till midnight and had to endure physical abuse. When I questioned the land lady one day, she showed me a video of handing over ₹1 lakh to one of the agents,” alleged Ms. Selvaraj.
She also complained that though she was promised ₹23,000 a month, she was paid only ₹19,000, and even dues for four months remains unpaid. She alleged that she had called both the agents, one reportedly in Qatar, but did not receive any help. She eventually made it back home thanks to the intervention of some activists and organisations there.
Her police petition, among other things, demanded action against both the agents, compensation for the physical abuse she had to endure and her four months’ pending salary.
The Njarakkal police have registered a case under IPC Section 370 (Trafficking) against the two agents, Salim and Sakkeer. “We couldn’t trace neither. Salim is originally from Chavakkad [in Thrissur] and lived in the petitioner’s neighbourhood for a while but had since then left the place. We have little information about the other guy who seems to be out of the country,” said police sources.
Ms. Selvaraj, meanwhile, is undergoing treatment for what she claims to be injuries inflicted by her Arab employer.