Missing Without A Trace

Maids leaving for Middle East

Every year thousands of Sri Lankan women go to the Middle East to work as housemaids in order to provide for the their families. There has always been news of women who are abused, harassed and stoned to death. These stories have become more and more horrifying with each passing second.

Recently a story was reported. The story of  Deepika Kumari of  Meegalewa. Deepika as many other women left the country in order to earn a living to support her family. However here hereabouts are now not known.

“We are people who find it difficult to make ends meet. We don’t even own a plot of land to cultivate therefore my wife decided to seek foreign employment leaving behind our children and I,” her husband R.S.S. Wijethunga said.

Wijethunga said that he heard from his wife when she was in the Middle East for three months consecutively but not after that. She was 21 years of age at the time of her departure and had worked in a residence for three months as a domestic help. Her husband stated that whenever she called she would complain of her being harassed and abused by the people that she was working for.

“She would always complain that the head of the house hold would assault her physically by hitting her” he said. She had complained many a times that he had been assaulted in a cruel manner. She was not even given a salary for the three months that she worked. She then escaped from that house and had seeked shelter at an agency in the country. A lady at that agency by the name of Ayomi directed her to another house. She served that house only for 12 days as she faced many troubles there as well. The Master of that house had invited her to sleep with him and had beaten her as she refused. “That very day my wife called me and asked me to bring her back as she feared her life was in danger” Wijethunga said.

That was the last time her husband had contacted her. Since then there has been no contact between them. Deepika disappeared in the first week of September 2011, the day the final call was made.

Deepika Kumari was sent to Kuwait by a foreign employment agency in Kurunegala. Her husband had reported this story to the Kurunegala foreign employment bureau office but unfortunately had not received any assistance in finding the whereabouts of his wife Deepika.  Their son is eight years old and he misses the mother he said “my mother went abroad a long time ago. I don’t feel the urge to go to school, when I see the other children come to school with their mothers I feel very sad. Please His Excellency the president, please bring my mother home”.

When The Sunday leader contacted the working director of the foreign employment bureau Upul Deshapriya regarding this issue he said “when someone lodges a complaint in the foreign employment bureau we have a separate reconciliation division that investigates the situation and the place that the women live in. we bring in their foreign employment agent and we let him or her know and we start an inquiry regarding the situation.” On the disappearances that happen he said “we only send a worker abroad for 2 years the insurance we provide only lasts up to two years as well. So these women should come back to Sri Lanka after completing two years of service. If not if she wants to continue working she should go to the embassy and has to re- register so if she doesn’t re-register and just disappears then even though we start an investigation we don’t have any records of her, the truth is we can assume that they have either run away with someone or has come back and has run away with another, because these are the stories that we have uncovered. But blaming all on the bureau is wrong because after the expiration of their contracts unless they re-register we can’t keep track of their whereabouts.” He went on to say “these past few days we have struggled and saved the girl who was going to be stoned to death but nobody thanked us everybody just continues to criticise the foreign employment bureau. As a citizen we will continue to search for Deepika’s whereabouts but if she hasn’t registered under the bureau we can’t assume responsibility. That is the rule here at the foreign employment bureau”

5 Comments for “Missing Without A Trace”

  1. Sabe

    In case if a person is dead can he or she appear before the FEB to register?

  2. k.soysa

    No one cares. Except the immediate family no one cares but thank you for raising this issue that has been there for such a long time. It is in the power of the GOVERNMENT of this country to monitor these helpless young women without whom they will not have the funds for the duty-free vehicles etc. WHAT is the difficulty to closely watch and monitor these “domestics”? Will we allow our women to go? What is the highly paid ambassador doing about these cases? Why cannot the Kurunegala “agency” be held responsible?

  3. Cedric Fernando

    We Sri lankans hear these stories very regularly now days, our women coming back dead in box’s ,with nails in their bodies etc, yet our people (more the Politicians) see these poor people as fodder, a product for foreign exchange and don’t give a damn about them. Yet they enjoy reading and preaching of their great history of kings and culture.. what about doing something to preserve our future… Were our ladies built for servants internationally? ALL THESE WOMEN SHOULD BE BANNED TRAVELLING TO COUNTRIES WHICH ILL TREAT THEM AS A START, NAMELY THE MIDDLE EAST, WHERE THESE PEOPLE HAVE LAWS THAT ARE UNACCEPTABLE INTERNATIONALLY!


    Cedric Fernando

  4. Cedric Fernando

    What a great country Sri Lanka could be… If only we had decent leaders to help build the country instead of them selves………..

    What a Paradise SL could be if we had real law and order, no corruption, and leaders who love their country

    Just look around at the towns and planning, what a disgrace, even the drains are not cleaned, yet we complain of mosquitoes?


    Cedric Fernando

  5. gamarala

    Though the worker has the duty to re-register, the bureau also has a duty to remind her to do so, and, this should be possible if they had kept track of her until the last day of the contract/insurance..
    This is very necessary in view of the harassment all maids encounter, due to which they can easily forget.
    This is what the bureau is paid for – all insurance companies remind policy holders well before expiry of insurance.

    Saving the girl from stoning to death is their DUTY – no public servant need thanks for performing his duty. Moreover, this was a collective effort by many.

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