India Middle East

India hunts for woman ‘tortured and enslaved’ by Saudi employers


Indian embassy instructed to find Reena Rani after her desperate video appeal for rescue from Saudi abusers

India’s embassy in Riyadh has been instructed to find a Punjabi woman after her desperate appeal to be rescued from Saudi employers who she claims had “tortured and enslaved” her.

Reena Rani, 25, used a Facebook video last week to beg her local MP, Bhagwant Mann, to help her get back to India.

Rani said she had been held captive by two men and locked inside a house in the Saudi town of Dawadmi.

“I came here to earn some money but now I’m living in miserable conditions,” said Rani. “They locked me up in a room. Somehow, I had managed to reach the police for help. I was ill-treated by police too and stuck in Dawadmi city.

“I am in pain. I am in trouble. I have been tortured for the past year. Please rescue me.”

The video, which was widely viewed in India, prompted Mann to upload a video of his own urging Rani contact him so he could pass on her details to the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.

“I got her passport number last night and sent it to Sushma Swaraj immediately. She will be brought to Punjab soon,” Mann told the Hindustan Times last week.

However, Rani remains unaccounted for.

Mann has a track record of helping Indian migrants who have been sent to work in the Middle East, often as building and domestic labourers.

In an interview after Rani posted her video, Mann told a local Indian news site that he received daily messages from Indians who face poor working conditions in Jordan, Libya, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

“Specifically in Gulf countries, they treat people like slaves and snatch their passports when they arrive in the country,” said Mann.

“The (Indian) government should take action against unauthorised agents. They show our people dreams, but in reality, it is the complete opposite.”

Human Rights Watch has documented cases of abuse where some domestic workers have accused their employers of torturing them.

Hundreds of female foreign workers in the Gulf have fled their employers after they faced physical and psychological abuse where many flee to their embassies.

In March, a video emerged on social media which showed an Ethiopian maid hanging on the edge of a balcony while being filmed by her Kuwaiti employer.

The Ethiopian woman’s employers were arrested by the Kuwaiti authorities after the video went viral.

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