Arabian Fright

August 27, 2010 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan housemaid who had 24 nails embedded in her body — allegedly by her Saudi employer — was recovering in hospital Friday after doctors removed 18 of them during a three-hour surgery. L.T. Ariyawathi, 49, said her employer in Saudi Arabia had inflicted the injuries on her as a punishment. She was admitted to hospital at the weekend after she returned home complaining she was in great pain and unable to walk.

“We removed 13 big nails, each about two inches (five centimetres) long, and six smaller ones,” hospital director Prabath Gajadeera told AFP.

He said six nails were not immediately removed because the procedure might have resulted in serious nerve damage.

“She is now conscious and recovering well,” Gajadeera said.

The woman, who travelled to Saudi Arabia in March, was deeply traumatised and unable to give full details of her experience. However, Sri Lankan police have begun an investigation.

Around 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, of whom 70 percent are women. Most work as housemaids in the Middle East, while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong.