News/Malaysia: Malaysia considers new safeguards to stop attacks on foreign maids

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Subject: News/Malaysia: Malaysia considers new safeguards to stop attacks on foreign maids
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 11:25:53 EST


Malaysia considers new safeguards to stop attacks on foreign maids
Agence France Presse, February 9, 2000

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) -- Malaysian immigration authorities are considering new
safeguards to stop employers attacking foreign maids after another case
came to light, reports said Wednesday.

Immigration director general Aseh Che Mat was quoted by the New Straits
Times as saying he would meet an association of foreign maid agencies next
week to find ways of encouraging domestic helpers to report abuse.

One proposal was to compel employers to take maids to the agencies within a
specific time to ensure their well-being. Agency proprietors may also be
asked to visit the maids they helped to hire, the paper said.

"The number of cases of maids being abused is frightening," Aseh was quoted
as saying. "Sometimes it makes you wonder whether we are living among
civilised people."

At a press conference Tuesday, Aseh produced an Indonesian maid aged 25 who
said she had been assaulted five times in two months by her employer's wife.

She was told to work from 5 a.m. to midnight every day.

The woman, a Muslim from Java, also said her employer turned a blind eye
when his wife told her several times to cook pork.

The paper said the employer had been brought to the immigration department
for questioning.

Last week Aseh said employers who assault foreign maids could lose their
passports.

His comments followed a widely publicised case of an Indonesian maid who
said she was tortured by her boss for more than a year.

Nurjanah Matyak, 40, said she was told to cane herself 50 times on her
thighs for "mistakes" in performing her duties and suffered from blurred
vision following various other assaults.

The New Straits Times said a housewife was expected to be charged this week
for abusing Nurjanah. The immigration department has banned Nurjanah's
employers for life from employing foreign maids.

There are more than 150,000 foreign maids in the country.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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