Saudi boss kept Sri Lankan maid prisoner for 10 years: report

RIYADH, Aug 14, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan housemaid in Saudi Arabia pleaded in a call to a newspaper to be rescued from her employer she says has kept her imprisoned for the past 10 years, the Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Arab News said it received the cry for help from Anista Marie, who left the coastal town of Chilaw in Sri Lanka a decade ago to work in a house in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“When I came here I was 30 years of age. Now I am 40 and I have never taken holiday leave, nor have I been paid in the past eight years,” Marie told the English language daily by telephone.

Marie said her employers beat her whenever she asked to return to Sri Lanka to see her four children or to be paid.

“They assault me when I say that I want to go home. It’s worse when I talk about salary,” she said.

“Let me go home and see my children and die on my soil,” she added.

The newpaper said the Sri Lankan embassy would contact Saudi officials about Marie’s case.

Around 550,000 Sri Lankans live and work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, many of them as domestic helpers or drivers. They are a key source of foreign currency for Sri Lanka.

Human rights groups have strongly criticised the ultra-conservati