A Bangladeshi maid working in Saudi Arabia has gone viral on social media after crying for help to break free from her “abusive” employers.
In a widely shared video last week, Sumi Akter, 25, claimed that the family she has been working for had physically and sexually assaulted her, dousing her with hot oil in one event.
“I perhaps won’t live longer. Please save me. They locked me up for 15 days and barely gave me any food. They burned my arms with hot oil and tied me up,” Akter said in Bengali, according to Middle East Eye.
“They took me from one home to another one,” she added. “In the first home, they tortured me and hit me repeatedly and then took me to another one where I experienced the same.”
Akter held her phone close to her face so she could hide it from her employers while making her desperate plea. However, the device was confiscated later, according to a Bangladeshi NGO working to bring her home.
“I don’t think I’m going to live,” Akter said. “I think I’m going to die. They have beaten and tortured me. Please save me, just take me away from here.”
Akter’s plea has since invoked protests in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, with people demanding to bring her home. The government reportedly ordered the state-run manpower exporting agency to bring her back “as soon as possible.”
Fortunately, Akter, who worked in Jeddah, was rescued in Riyadh last week, according to Ekkator TV. It’s unclear if she has returned to her family.
Around 300,000 Bangladeshi women have traveled to Saudi Arabia since 1991. Those workers reportedly bring the largest amount of wages back to Bangladesh.
Despite Akter’s story — and a number of similar cases — Bangladesh has no plans of halting its export of women to the Gulf nation.
“Saudi Arabia admitted some people are being victimized. But that is happening for a few handfuls of people. The Saudi government isn’t making them victims,” Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told reporters, according to the AFP.
Akter’s story follows the case of her compatriot and fellow migrant worker Nazma Begum, whose body was repatriated in October. She reportedly called her son multiple times before her death, alleging torture in the hands of her employers.
Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.
Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.
We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.