An Indian woman working as a maid for a family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, allegedly had her hand cut off by her employer.
Kashturi Munirathinam’s employer reportedly carried out the act in retaliation for her attempt to escape, The Times of India reported.
“We are told that the incident happened on the night of September 29 after she complained about torture and non-payment of wages by her employer," Munirathinam’s sister, Vijayakumari, told the Indian Express. "He chopped off her hand when she tried to escape from the house through the balcony. Some neighbors and others took her to [the] hospital.”
Munirathinam alleged that the torture included being denied food.
“Kasturi's employer was angered after she apprised local officials about the harassment she was facing there; she was not even provided food,” Vijayakumari told the Press Trust of India, according to Daily Mail.
No footage of the incident is available, but a video reportedly taken soon afterwards has surfaced.
“I pleaded with the lady not to harm me, but she kicked me, punched me and cut off my arm,” Munirathinam says in a video posted to social media, according to The Times of India. "I want to go back home. Please help me."
The woman’s treatment has produced an angry response from Indian politicians.
“Chopping of hand of Indian lady - We are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister for internal affairs, wrote on Twitter, according to the Daily Mail.
An Indian foreign ministry official confirmed that New Delhi has launched an investigation into the alleged attack.
“Our embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor,” spokesperson Vikas Swarup told Indian Express. "We have also sought an independent probe in the incident and urged that a case of attempted murder be lodged against the sponsor so that he is punished, if found guilty as per law."
Munirathinam took the job in the Saudi capital as a maid to financially help her family in India.
Large numbers of workers travel to Saudi Arabia from India and other countries to perform often low-skilled, private sector jobs. According to the Wall Street Journal, about a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s population of 30 million is made up of expat workers.