After a 14-month ordeal in Saudi Arabia, where she was forced to work as a "slave" in a household, 42-year-old Jacintha Mendonca has returned home. Jacintha, a victim of human trafficking, was duped by a Mumbai-based recruiting agency which had promised to get her a well-paying job in Qatar.
She was first taken to Dubai from where she was flown to Saudi Arabia without her knowledge and made to work in a household at Yanbu, where she had been virtually "enslaved" for the last 14 months.
Talking to reporters at A V Baliga hospital at Udupi yesterday, Jacintha narrated her harrowing experience. "I had a hellish experience in Yanbu...I was made to work day in and day out at three mansions belonging to the employer's mother, his three wives and their children...I was tortured like an animal," she alleged, adding the children called her 'gaddama' (slave).
Jacintha further alleged that she was confined to the house and not allowed to venture outside.
She tried to escape in November last year, but was caught by the police who sent her back to the employer.
The escape bid brought more hardship as she was badly beaten up and her head banged against the wall. Her employers did not even give her water when she pleaded with them.
Jacintha is finally back home now, thanks to the efforts of Human Rights Protection Foundation of Udupi, who contacted the head of the NRI Forum Rodrigues in Saudi Arabia in April this year.
She could reunite with her family in Mundrangady in Udupi district, on September 22.
Jacintha now wants the authorities to take action against those who cheated her and vows that she would never go back to the Gulf again.
Ravindra Shanbagh of Udupi Human Rights Foundation said they could locate the employer in Saudi Arabia only after a series of attempts.
The efforts of the NRI Forum in Saudi Arabia succeeded in getting Jacintha back home on September 22 through lawful measures, he said.