Abused Sri Lankan maid wins payout from Saudi employer

RIYADH, Sept 30, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan maid rescued from abusive Saudi employers will receive a 5,000 dollar payout and a ticket home after going public with allegations of ill-treatment, a Sri Lankan diplomat said Sunday.

Charge d’affaires at the Sri Lankan embassy in Riyadh W.S.M.S. Wijesundera told AFP that the 47-year-old housemaid, Anista Marie, was “very happy” her seven-year ordeal had ended.

He said she would receive 20,000 riyals (5,360 dollars) and be allowed to return home to her four children after a decade in Saudi Arabia.

The case is highly unusual in the ultra-conservative kingdom, where human rights groups have criticised employers for alleged abuse of often powerless expatriate workers, charges Riyadh denies.

Marie was rescued from her female employer by Riyadh police and embassy officials in early September, three weeks after she called the local Arab News daily saying she had been imprisoned at the home of her sponsor, abused, and not paid for at least seven years.

Wijesundera said the written settlement was reached at a police station in the Saudi capital in the presence of an embassy official after the maid’s “sponsor” disputed her claim on the length of time she had not receive