"Jumping from third story, Riyadh maid loses hand; India claims torture," reads the headline of a news report published on Arab News, a newspaper published in Saudi Arabia, on October 10.
What stands out in the otherwise unremarkable headline is the use of the term "loses".
The victim is Kasthuri Munirathinam (58), an Indian citizen hailing from Vellore in Tamil Nadu, who worked as a domestic help in Saudi Arabia.
Late last month, Kasthuri's employer allegedly chopped off her right arm when she tried to escape from the clutches of the latter's tortures.
The shocking incident was quickly picked up by the media and on Friday, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj called the incident "unacceptable" and ordered the MEA to look into the matter.
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.â€” Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 9, 2015
This is unacceptable. We have taken this up with Saudi authorities.â€” Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 9, 2015
Our embassy is in touch with the victim.â€” Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 9, 2015
However, the Arab News report seems to be trying to not only tone down the seriousness of the alleged crime, but it also appears to be on the defensive when it calls other media reports downright "erroneous".
"Indian and international media has published an erroneous story of a 55-year-old Indian housemaid in the Kingdom who, it said, lost her right hand in amputation surgery as a result of torture by her Saudi female boss," the report begins.
It quotes Kasthuri's sponsor who "confirmed" that "the maidâ€™s right hand was amputated as a result of her failed attempt to flee home by jumping from a window."
Another publication from the country, Saudi Gazette, treads the same line.
In its report published on Saturday, headlined "Indian maid loses arm: Riyadh police vow swift and just action", the paper informs how Kasthuri, "who lost her arm following a bid to escape her allegedly abusive sponsor, is on the path of recovery". References to "chopping" appear only in the later half in both the reports.
Kasthuri's employer has been arrested after India took the case at the highest level with Saudi authorities.
What Kasthuri said
Kasthuri reportedly went to Saudi three months ago to work as a domestic help at a house. Her family in Chennai alleges that she was repeatedly tortured. She jumped off the balcony of the house to escape her employer.
The 58-year-old was working for an old woman. Kasthuri had reached out to her family in India and sent her video statement from the hospital. You can watch the video below.
In the video, she says that while she was trying to escape from the tortures of her employers by getting off the balcony with the help of a saree, her arm was chopped off. She says that it was the lady she was taking care of, who chopped off her hands
Government mulls banning recruitment of housemaids by Saudi Arabia
Amidst reports of alleged torture and sexual harassment against domestic help workers from India in Saudi, the MEA is now mulling a ban on recruitment of India housemaids by Saudi, The Hindu reported.
Swaraj discussed the issue in a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the Ministry of External Affairs on October 8.
"Sushmaji and we discussed how to stop the flow of housemaids from Tamil Naduâ€™s Vellore and West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, which top the list of regions producing housemaids for the Saudi kingdom," D Raja, Rajya Sabha member and also member of the committee, told the newspaper.