Once a Saudi king’s guest, woman returns to India in despair

She was employed in remote Asir region of Saudi Arabia as a domestic helper where she was allegedly mistreated and made to work long hours

Jeddah: A Karnataka woman who was allegedly duped by agents and stranded in a remote place in Saudi Arabia has finally left for home with the help of workers Indian community workers in the area.

In an interesting twist, the woman, who was raised in an orphanage in Bengaluru, was fascinated about the oil-rich country. As a teenager, she was once a guest of the King of Saudi Arabia .

As a tradition, Saudi kings invite people from different sections across the globe to be their guests and perform Hajj. Then a teenager, Sabiha from Tumakuru district performed Hajj as state guest along with other orphan girls as King’s Guest during late King Fahad era. She had the privilege to spend time in royal palaces as a guest of the King.

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She grew up, got married, and now is mother of four children. Sabiha’s husband suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with the cardiac disease, which needed expensive medical procedure. She also needed money to support her daughters’ education.

The financial conditions of the family forced now 30-year-old Sahiha to look for a job in Saudi Arabia. She approached a Mumbai-based agent for a job. She was first taken to UAE, from where she was brought into Asir province of Saudi Arabia on tourist visa. She was employed as a domestic helper in a house where she was allegedly mistreated and made to work long hours.

After a series of attempts, the woman escaped from her workplace and approached police. She finally came in contact with Ashraf Kuttichal, a noted Indian social worker in Asir region.

“Since her visa is valid and she did not violate any rules, there was no reason to arrest or deport her,” said Ashraf, who coordinated with local authorities and the Indian consulate in Jeddah to help the woman.

“When she approached a shelter house, she was not provided shelter as she did not have workers’ visa,” he explained.

Finally, with the help of police and local authorities the woman was repatriated. LANA Indian Advanced School, a CBSE-affiliated school in the region, also helped the distressed woman.

Before she boarded the flight to India, she expressed gratitude towards Saudi authorities, the Indian consulate, and Ashraf.

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