News/Malaysia: Fresh case of Indon maid being abused

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Subject: News/Malaysia: Fresh case of Indon maid being abused
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed May 24 2000 - 08:15:56 EDT


Fresh case of Indon maid being abused
By Ayesha Syed
New Straits Times (Malaysia), May 10, 2000

PETALING JAYA, Tues. - While it was only recently that Malaysians expressed
outrage at the alleged assault of Indonesian maid Nurjanah Matyak, another
has claimed similar horrific abuse, showing that not all Malaysians think
the same way about human rights.

At a Press conference called by the Women's Aid Organisation today, Sri
Mulyati Hamid, who came to Malaysia four months ago, showed the bruises and
scars allegedly caused by her former employers.

She claimed that she was not only abused by her female employer but by the
employer's husband too.

With tearful eyes, she related how the couple would wake her up by kicking
and beating her whenever they argued with each other.

The 26-year-old mother said the couple had treated her well for the first
few weeks, but one day hit her when they found a mosquito bite on their
18-month-old baby.

Sri Mulyati said the couple insisted that she woke up at 5am and only
allowed her to sleep after midnight. She was also forbidden to leave the
house and allowed to eat only once a day.

In addition to housework and the care of two children, Sri Mulyati was
expected to take care of her employer's elderly mother.

She alleged her female employer frequently used her mother's steel walking
stick to beat her if she was late in bathing the old woman.

She was warned against allowing the neighbours to see her bruises.

"My employer forced me to water the plants and do other chores outside at
2am so that my bruises would not be seen. She said if anyone found out, she
would cut herself with a knife and blame it on me," claimed Sri Mulyati.

She added that her employer told her she was bought for RM5,000 and could
no longer return to the agency or her country.

Eventually, Sri Mulyadi escaped and was brought to the WAO's shelter after
being beaten until she bled. She was taken to a police station in Petaling
Jaya where she made a report.

WAO executive secretary Ivy Josiah claimed that only the husband, an
airline engineer, was picked up for questioning by police and released on
police bail pending investigation.

Josiah said this was the sixth case of maid abuse handled by WAO since 1995
and so far no convictions had been made.

The 1998 case of Ruminah Atem, who was caged by her employers, is still
pending and Ruminah was forced to return to Indonesia for she had no work
permit.

Josiah appealed for special allowances be made in cases of maids awaiting
court cases, which would allow them to work for other employers as many had
borrowed money to pay for their passage to Malaysia.

"Abuse is largely a case of power, where the perpetrator feels superior to
the victim and wants to exert control," she said.

On how these incidents could be prevented, Josiah said public education and
regulations which required agencies to monitor workers' welfare would help.

WAO has called for a standard contract enforced by the Government on all
agencies. There is currently such as contract for Filipina workers but not
for other nationals.

"It is sad that we must remind people that foreign workers are just that;
workers and not slaves. A how-to booklet such as those distributed in
Singapore will help employers know the rights of domestic workers," said
Josiah.

"As for Sri Mulyati, her cuts and bruises would heal in time but the
psychological damage would take far longer to disappear.

"She still feels scared when recalling the abuse and has not informed her
family as she says they have other problems to deal with."
Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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