Maid with 24 nails in her body claims torture by Saudi employer

The Sri Lankan national, 49, who has returned home after leaving to work in the kingdom in March, said the nails, some of then 5cm long, were driven into her hands, feet and legs as punishment.

COLOMBO // A Sri Lankan housemaid has returned home from Saudi Arabia with 24 nails embedded in her body after allegedly being tortured by her employer, officials said. A government minister said police were investigating a complaint from L. T. Ariyawathi, 49, that her Saudi employer tortured her and drove nails into her body as punishment. "We are conducting an investigation and we will coordinate with Saudi authorities to have the suspects arrested," Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters. The woman travelled to Saudi Arabia in March and returned home last week, complaining of abuse by her employer. Abeywardena said doctors who examined the woman found the nails inside her body and she was currently being treated at a local hospital. Some of the nails are about two inches (five centimetres) long, according to pictures of the X-rays published in the local press, and were driven beneath the skin of Ariyawathi's hands, feet and legs. According to Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Bureau, around 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, of whom 70 percent are women. Most are employed as housemaids in the Middle East, while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong. Complaints of harassment are made regularly and the government has made it compulsory for migrant workers to register with local authorities, to ensure they can be provided with consular services if they encounter problems. * Agence France-Presse