Thursday, August 23, 2007

Abused maids: Jakarta demands swift action

Abused maids: Jakarta demands swift action
Aug 23, 07 10:26am

The Indonesian government upped the pressure on Malaysia to take swift action against abusive employers after the death of an Indonesian maid working in Kuala Lumpur.

The beaten body of 24-year-old Kunasir was found last week. Police are currently investigating a Malaysian couple for her murder.

"We need the Malaysian government to take swift action on this case. This cannot go on as there are just too many cases where our people have been mistreated," said AM Fachir, the Indonesian deputy chief of mission here.

In another recent case, an Indonesian maid climbed out of the window of a high-rise apartment in Kuala Lumpur to escape an abusive employer.

Fachir pointed to another case of a Indonesian maid who escaped violent employers four years ago.

The abusers were charged by police but have not yet been tried in court, while the maid remains in limbo in Kuala Lumpur, Fachir told a press conference at the Indonesian embassy.

Employers not punished

Fachir also said the law seemed to be weighted against domestic workers, citing a recent case where a maid caught stealing 800 dollars was jailed for seven years.

"But serious cases involving Malaysia employers have yet to be tried and many times forgotten," he said.

Malaysia relies heavily on foreign workers for menial jobs, and the Indonesian embassy says about 300,000 Indonesian maids are employed here.

While local authorities have denied abuses are on the rise, the Indonesian embassy said more than 1,000 abused or unpaid workers seek refuge in its compound every year.

In the press conference on Tuesday, Zulkifli Dahlan, president of Malaysia's Foreign Workers' Agencies Association, said Kunasir had not gone through the proper training and was thus more susceptible to exploitative employers.

"Malaysia is trying very hard to clamp down on this and the government has given us the authority to stamp out these problems," he said.

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