Rajasthan woman taken to Saudi as help ‘abused’, wants to return

It was her hope for a better life that led Femida Bano, 40, to accept a job offer as domestic help in Saudi Arabia. A resident of Kota, she left for Riyadh on December 6, where a Mumbai-based agent got her placed.

But barely three days into her job there, Femida made a frantic call to her home asking her family members to rescue her. She has since then been complaining of physical abuse and ill-treatment. But despite her family petitioning the state government to intervene and rescue her, little help has so far come their way.

A mother of three, she first came to know about the job from three women in the city. They apparently enticed her with the lure of handsome pay in Saudi Arabia.

With two young daughters at home, Femida thought her job would reduce the financial burden of her husband, Shafi Mohammad, who work as a driver. Her elder son, Mohammad Iqbal, polishes furniture for a living.

Meanwhile, the three women managed to convince Femida to apply for a loan of Rs 25,000. She also discretely applied for a passport and visa. "We came to about it just a week before she was supposed to take up the job. We first relented. But then all arrangements were made. She assured us that job is that of a domestic help and the salary will be good," said Iqbal.

He said but after three days, his mother informed that she was being made to work all day. "She is being kept like a bonded labourer without enough food. Once she called from the driver's cellphone. Another call came from an ISD phone booth. We last heard from her on January 6. She was crying and asking for immediate help," Iqbal said.

When Iqbal and Femida's husband approached the agents they told the family that they were responsible only for sending workers out. "They asked us to pay Rs 1.5 lakh as travel fee to get her back. With our meagre income, we cannot get such a huge amount," said Iqbal.

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