For years now, international media has been reporting on the physical and psychological abuse suffered by migrant workers from poor Asian countries at the hands of rich Middle-Eastern employers, but organ theft has never been mentioned. Until now, anyway, as an Indonesian woman recently revealed that one of her kidneys had been removed without her knowledge three years ago, while she was working in Qatar.
25-year-old Sri Rabitah, from Lombok, in Indonesia, claims that in June 2014 she reached out to a local employment agency to help her find a job in the Middle East. She was originally told that she would be sent to work for a family in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, but somehow ended up in the home of a Palestinian family, in Doha, Qatar. As soon as she arrived, her employers told Sri that she first had to go through a medical checkup to make sure that she didn’t have any infectious diseases and was healthy enough to work. The young Indonesian never suspected that their reasonably-sounding request was actually just a pretext to get her near an operating table.
Sri Rabitah recalls that things got really weird when she arrived at the hospital – the name of which she cannot remember – on her third day of employment. A doctor told her that she was looking weak, and that he was going to give her an injection to help her relax. “Without permission, I received an injection. How come a medical needed an injection?” Sri told Indonesian newspaper Detik. “The doctor said I was feeling weak, so I was told to relax.”
Photo: Karnia Septia/Kompas
The shot turned out to be anesthetics, and just before she went under, Sri recalls being taken into an operating room full of surgical instruments. When she woke up, she felt a sharp pain on the right side of her lower back, and a basic inspection revealed a small incision scar. She later noticed there was blood in her urine as well, but she couldn’t seem to get a proper explanation about what had occurred at the hospital, from her employees.
To make matters worse, shortly after the bizarre incident, her employers took Sri back to the agency, complaining that she was unhealthy and unfit to work. She was assigned to other employers, but after falling ill several times, she was eventually put on a plane and sent back to Indonesia later that year. Sri didn’t dwell too much on her short-lived experience as a migrant worker, and simply ignored the frequent pain she felt in her lower back over the last three years.
She only learned the cause of the pain during a recent medical checkup in Lombok, when a doctor told her that she was missing a kidney. “It turned out I only have one kidney left. The doctor explained to me and showed me the intact kidney and where the other kidney was. My right kidney was replaced with some kind of coiled tube as its replacement,” she told reporters.
Sri is scheduled for surgery to remove the dubious tube on March 2, but she also wants those responsible for her situation to be brought to justice. “I want the government to sue the perpetrator. My kidney was stolen,” Rabitah said.
The House of Representatives (DPR) has called on the Indonesian Government to find those responsible for Sri Rabitah’s treatment – both at home and in Qatar – and cover all the medical costs of her surgery.