Nails removed from 'tortured' Sri Lankan maid

LP Ariyawathie (left), Kamburupitiya Hospital, Sri Lanka Ms Ariyawathie (left) was deeply traumatised, doctors said

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Doctors have removed 13 nails and five needles from a Sri Lankan housemaid who said her employer in Saudi Arabia hammered them into her body.

LP Ariyawathie, 49, told staff at Kamburupitiya Hospital her employer inflicted the injuries as a punishment.

X-rays showed that there were 24 nails and needles in her body. Doctors said those remaining inside her body posed no immediate threat to her life.

The nails were up to 2in (5cm) long, a hospital official said.

"The surgery is successful and she is recovering now," Dr Satharasinghe said, according to news agency Associated Press.

Ms Ariyawathie, a mother of three, underwent a three-hour procedure.

Doctors said they would carry out further surgery later to remove the remaining nails.

'Deeply traumatised'

Ms Ariyawathie travelled to Saudi Arabia in March to become a housemaid.

Detail of an X-ray film showing nails in hand of Sri Lankan housemaid Doctors say this X-ray shows nails embedded in the housemaid's hand

Last week, she flew back to Sri Lanka and was admitted to hospital in the south of the island, where she told doctors she had undergone abuse for more than a month.

The doctors found 24 metal pieces in her legs and hands.

She could not sit down or walk properly, doctors said.

They said Ms Ariyawathie was deeply traumatised and unable to give full details of her experience.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities have launched an investigation.

"We have launched a strong protest with the Saudi government through the external affairs minister, but there has been no response yet," Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of Bureau for Foreign Employment, told the BBC.

Around 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, 70% of whom are women.

Most work as housemaids in the Middle East, while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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