Jeddah: A Hyderabadi woman’s heart-rending story underlines the trauma and stigmatisation staring at some Indian women domestic workers in the Gulf region. When Shaikh Shakeela, 30, was repatriated to India along with her family, after spending most of her life in Saudi Arabia, it was an emotional moment.
Her mother Raziya came to work as a domestic helper in Taif, a hill station in Saudi Arabia, some thirty years ago and she fell in love and married a man from Mumbai who was also then working in Taif. The couple was blessed with Shakeela in 1992, their only daughter. Later, the man abandoned his wife and daughter in India.
Razia decided to try again her luck in Saudi Arabia but not on employment visa but ventured into the country on Umrah visa, which is easily available for Muslims to visit Mecca and Medina, along with her daughter Shakeela. After entering Mecca, she infiltrated into neighbouring Taif, where she had worked earlier.
The mother and daughter duo, who came on Umrah visa that has short validity of less than a month, stayed illegally for over 15 years in Saudi Arabia. Raziya married off her daughter to Sadiq Ali, a native of Lucknow, who was working as a mechanic in Taif. Sadiq Ali ran into trouble after the closure of the workshop and subsequently, his Iqama expired, he was depending on the earnings of her mother-in-law. Shakeela and Sadiq Ali couple gave birth to a baby boy in 2019.
Since mother Shakeela was an illegal resident in the country and officially there was no marriage documentation as a result their baby boy was not issued any birth certificate by local authorities.
According to the family, Shakeela’s husband was allegedly tortured and due to lack of money not even able to feed the baby or pay the electricity bill of the house. A distraught family in Taif approached the Indian consulate in Jeddah for help through noted Indian community worker Mohammed Salhi Sahib. Touched by the ordeal of the family from one generation to another, Indian consul general Md Shahid Alam has finalised the birth registration of Shakeela’s son and issued a travel document. The registration of birth beyond a certain time is difficult owing to Indian citizenship and birth registration rules.
Raziya feared to not repeat her case with her daughter’s life but she too ended up on the same page. Three members of the family – grandmother, mother and grandson – all were illegal residents returned home recently with the help of the Indian Consulate.
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