Heated nails hammered into Sri Lankan maid: doctor

Surgeons at Sri Lanka's southern Kamburupitiya hospital removed 19 out of a total of 24 nails -- some five-centimetre long -- and a needle that were in her arms, legs and forehead during a three-hour operation.

Hospital director Prabath Gajadeera said L T Ariyawathi, 49, told them her  Saudi employer inflicted the injuries on her as a punishment because she found it difficult to communicate with those in the household.

"She said her employer heated the nails and then hammered them into her body," Gajadeera told AFP. "The nails were in her arms, legs and forehead." He said the woman could not have driven the nails herself.

"It is clear someone else had to drive in the nails," he said. "We will in any case refer her to a psychiatrist for analysis before discharging her from hospital." She was admitted to hospital last weekend after returning home complaining she was in great pain and unable to walk.

Surgeons at the hospital removed 13 big nails, each five-centimetre long, and six smaller ones, Gajadeera said. He said the remaining nails were not immediately removed because the procedure might have resulted in serious nerve damage.

The woman, who travelled to Saudi Arabia in March, was deeply traumatised and unable to give full details initially, but was recovering quickly and would be discharged in about three days, the doctor said. Officials said the government would pay her more than USD 3,000 from a fund to help Sri Lankan migrant workers who are abused.
"A cheque for 100,000 rupees (USD 900) was given to her at the hospital," a spokesman for the foreign employment bureau said, with the balance to be paid soon after she leaves hospital.

The welfare fund also plans to build a home for Ariyawathi, a mother of three, who travelled to Saudi Arabia to earn money to upgrade her mud hut.

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