Burns-disfigured woman, cast out as a 'leper', returns to India


A woman who suffered burn injuries following a suicide attempt in India, claims she was pushed out of the shelter run by the Indian Consulate in Dubai, after other inmates accused her of suffering from leprosy.

Rajamma, who has permanent burns on her face, says was not allowed to cook or enter the kitchen at the shelter. She is now at the Indian Association’s premises in Ajman and is expected to fly back to Thiruvananthapuram tonight (Tuesday).

Rajamma says she came to the UAE about four months ago. She was promised a job as an attendant-cum-cleaning staff at a school. Upon arrival, she was told to work as a housemaid but some of her employers did not want to have her due to the burn marks.

Her plight began in 2012 when her fisherman husband died, leaving her and her two children with debts running into several hundred thousand rupees.

“Unable to bear harassment by money lenders, I tried to commit suicide by burning myself. Somebody rescued me. I got out of the hospital after six months of treatment,” she says, explaining her burn injuries.

“But I have not told anyone here that I tried committing suicide. I blamed it on an accident while cooking,” she says.

She says she regrets her decision to have tried to commit suicide and finally decided to rebuild her life and that is what brought her to the UAE.

“I came to the UAE only because it was a school job. The visa that they initially gave me also said that. But when I reached Mumbai they replaced my visa and said I am travelling to the UAE as a housemaid. They told me that was the only way I could travel,” she said.

Upon arrival, she was first asked to work as a housemaid in Ajman. “The old woman there was hesitant at first, especially since I had burn marks. Finally, I left the house and was asked to work in another house, which I refused. The agent harassed me,” she said. Finally, she approached the Indian Association in Ajman and was put up at the shelter in Dubai.

There again, she says she faced harassment from other inmates. “I was not allowed to cook or to enter the kitchen. They accused me of being a leper,” she says. Finally, the officials at the shelter had to send her back to the Indian Association in Ajman.

Ahamed Khan, President of Indian Association in Ajman, said the woman will be flying back to Kerala this evening and accused agents in India of running a racket.

“This needs to stop. The government of India has to clamp down on such agents,” he said.

When asked her future course of action, Rajamma says. “It will be a struggle but I will fight it out,” she adds.

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