She left for Saudi Arabia at the tender age of 19, but returned dead, her body wrapped in a cloth, and with torture marks.
Beatrice Waruguru is the latest Kenyan woman to have died in the Gulf country. Her story echoes those of many others who have suffered at the hands of brutal employers in a faraway land.
A peaceful protest was held in Nairobi yesterday from Jevanjee Gardens to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for an end to continued slavery of Kenyan women in the Gulf countries. The protestors were some of the women workers who have returned from the gulf countries, and officials from the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha) and those from the Centre for Domestic Training and Development.
The protestors called on the government to end this long standing problem that has seen women who have left Kenya in search of better opportunities tortured to death in those countries.
Waruguru is reported to have left the country after sitting her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) exam without informing her family.
“An agent forged her age to read 21 years to enable her travel, yet she was 19. She had done well in her KCSE exams, but was discovered to have left the country when her mother started looking for her to sign her bursary form for her studies at Kenyatta University," Ms Faith Murunga, a secretary at Kudheiha, told the Nation.
Waruguru’s mother Mercy Wanjiru found a way to communicate with her daughter and at some point, Waruguru informed her and her friends in Kenya that she was being tortured. The family advised her to seek help at the nearest police station or mosque, but eventually lost touch with her around May last year.
Kept lying to her mother
In September, news that Waruguru had died started streaming into the country but her agent insisted that she was alive.
“The reports were that she died in May, yet her agent kept lying to her mother that she was alive and well,” recalled Ms Murunga.
Waruguru’s body arrived in the country last week on Wednesday, a year after she died.
The family received her passport, medical documents and the report of a post-mortem done in Saudi Arabia, together with her luggage.
An external medical exam done in Saudi Arabia showed she suffered trauma on her head and that she had some incisions on both sides of her neck and front as well as limited swelling on her forehead.
It further showed that her hands and legs bore isolated abrasions, which could be generally traumatic. There were also friction injuries.
The post-mortem report said she had a blood spill in the scalp that may have occurred as a result of being hit with a solid object of any kind.
She was only 19
“Histological examination showed that the neck muscles, carotid arteries and thyroid gland were free of laceration or haemorrhages. Toxic examination turned negative. Based on the foregoing, the cause of death is pressure on the neck with a cord,” the report read in part.
The family said the body bore marks of torture, with the eyes gouged out. A local post-mortem showed she had been starved and dehydrated, bore burn marks on her hands as well as marks of strangulation on her neck.
Ms Sophia Mumo, a returnee from the Gulf, who has worked in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Dubai faulted the agency that sent Waruguru to Saudi Arabia without informing her family.
"They forged the papers for this girl, she was only 19 and not yet 21, additionally, she was not five foot tall as required," said Ms Mumo.
Ms Mumo said she was lucky to have left the Gulf alive after a nasty experience that made her leave abruptly.
“Another lady and I were being driven to the desert by two men when at some point one left the vehicle and we got the chance to save our lives. We attacked the driver, locked the vehicle’s doors and forced him to drive us back. That was 2013, we expected things to be better now, but for some reason, they are getting worse,” said Ms Mumo.
Ms Wanjiru, Waruguru’s mother could not attend the protests and she was preparing to move Waruguru’s body to Embu ahead of her burial tomorrow.