News/Malaysia: Action demanded over maid abuse

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Subject: News/Malaysia: Action demanded over maid abuse
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Feb 28 2000 - 08:55:51 EST


Action demanded over maid abuse
Ian Stewart
South China Morning Post, February 16, 2000

Kuala Lumpur -- Calls are growing for action to curb a sharp rise in maid
abuse, which has been highlighted by a series of cases in the past week,
all involving foreigners.

Pictures of young women with bruised and bandaged faces on the front pages
of newspapers have shocked the nation and prompted the immigration chief to
announce that he will discuss the problem with agencies bringing in
domestic help from abroad.

Malaysians expressed concern that their country would attain the same
notoriety as neighbouring Singapore, where the mistreatment of foreign
servants has been catalogued in a spate of court cases over several years.
Charges against employers have included sexual assault, forcing a maid to
eat dog faeces and attacking an employee with a hot iron.

In the latest Malaysian incident, a man handed his wife over to police
after their Indonesian maid was allegedly battered into a semi-conscious
state. The wife was detained under an eight-day custody order.

Police said the maid, Kusia Manijan, who was admitted to hospital, had
suffered serious injuries when she was hit on the head with a stone. A
medical report showed that she also had fresh burns on a hand caused by
boiling hot water in addition to new and old scars over her back and stomach.

Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn yesterday visited the maid and said
such cases damaged Malaysia's image as a caring society.

After the visit in a hospital intensive care unit, Mr Fong said the
ministry was planning a programme to make employers more caring towards
their maids.

Immigration authorities said last week they were considering new safeguards
to stop employers attacking foreign maids.

Earlier this week, in Kuala Lumpur, housewife Yap Saw Li, 50, was charged
with causing grievous hurt to her maid, Nurjanah Matiah, 33, an Indonesian.

Ms Nurjanah had appeared with a bruised face at a press conference arranged
by the Women's Aid Organisation and alleged she had been hit with various
objects, punched and forced to cane herself by her employer.

In Kuching, two Indonesian maids, aged 16 and 20, fled to the Indonesian
Consulate, where they alleged they had been repeatedly beaten by their
employers.

The Malaysian Youth Council called on the Government to make it compulsory
for potential employers to attend a course aimed at "discouraging" them
from ill-treating their foreign maids.

Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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