By ANIQA HAIDER , Posted on » Wednesday, August 04, 2010

ACTIVISTS have come to the aid of a battered Indian housemaid, who claims she was beaten by her employer's wife and forced to sleep outside on the terrace.

Salma Begum fled her boss's home covered in bruises yesterday, less than two months after she arrived in Bahrain.

The 32-year-old widow claims she has not been paid since she arrived on June 17.

She escaped at around noon yesterday and was spotted running down a street in Salmaniya by a resident of the area, who called Surya Charitable and Cultural Association president P P Basheer for help.

"She was running on the street and he (the resident) asked her to come to the building," Mr Basheer told the GDN yesterday.

"She was given food and water by the security guard, while the resident called and told me about her case."

Mr Basheer accompanied Ms Begum to the Indian Embassy yesterday afternoon to lodge a complaint against her employer.

"She told us that she belongs to a poor family and her husband died a year ago," he said.

"She now lives with two of her sisters, one is divorced and living with her children, and the second is paralysed.

"Her father is old, sick and unable to work."

Ms Begum cleaned the homes of her neighbours in India to earn a living, but then one of them gave her the number of the family in Bahrain and suggested she could make more money here.

"She faxed her passport copy to the sponsor, who sent her the work visa in two weeks," said Mr Basheer.

"The embassy was not involved in the case at all.

"She met her sponsor at the airport, who took her to his wife at their home in Khamis."

Ms Begum said that she came to Bahrain to earn money for her family, but had received nothing since she got here. "I came here to make money, I didn't know that I would be beaten and treated like a donkey," she said.

"I worked round the clock, but my sponsor was not happy at all.

"They promised me a salary of BD50 per month, but didn't pay me.

"They also forced me to sleep on the terrace in this heat.

"My sponsor's wife beat me every day and she didn't allow me to eat properly.

"She beat me so hard that there are marks all over my body.

"Whenever I washed clothes for her, she beat me. When I drank cold water, she beat me. If I sat on the carpet, she beat me.

"Then I decided to run away as it was more than I could stand - I didn't bring any of my belongings, I just opened the door and ran."

After visiting the Indian Embassy, Ms Begum was taken to the SMC and then Khamis Police Station to lodge a complaint.

However, when she got to the station she was told her employer had already reported her as a runaway worker.

Indian Ambassador Dr George Joseph is understood to have arrived at the police station and spoken to the employer on Ms Begum's behalf.

However, Mr Basheer - who was also present - said the employer told officers that Ms Begum beat herself because she no longer wanted to work for him.

He also claimed last night that the employer's Bahraini wife had been taken into custody for questioning, but it was not known if she was released or kept in custody overnight.

Mr Basheer said Ms Begum would be cared for at a shelter for abused expats set up by the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS).

"We are following the case and we will keep her in the MWPS shelter," he added.