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Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia Urged to Protect Foreign Workers

Sri Lankan women and rights activists protest near the Saudi Arabian embassy in Colombo, demanding a proper investigation into the hammering of nails into the body of a Sri Lankan maid employed in Saudi Arabia (Aug 2010 file photo)

An international human rights group has urged Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to do more to protect foreign workers, after Sri Lankan maids who worked in the countries complained of brutality.

Earlier this month, a Sri Lankan maid accused her Kuwaiti employer of hammering nails into her body as punishment. Another maid who worked in Jordan claimed her employer forced her to swallow nails.

In August, a Sri Lankan maid accused her Saudi employers of driving nails and needles into her body. A Saudi government official, Saad al-Badah, questioned the maid's account and suggested she was motivated to fabricate the story as blackmail.

Human Rights Watch says the allegations indicate a "broader pattern of abuse." In a Tuesday statement, senior researcher Nisha Varia said the "wanton brutality" alleged in the cases is "shocking."

At least 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, most of them women. Many work in the Middle East.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.