Headlines

Another Indonesian maid
allegedly abused in Malaysia

Following recent declarations by the government to stop sending domestic helpers to Malaysia, yet another Indonesian maid has claimed that she was abused by her Malaysian employer.

Modesta Rangga, 26, from West Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, told the Indonesian Embassy on Friday that she had been abused almost daily since she began working in Kampung Ampang Baru almost two years ago.

She claimed she suffered a severed right earlobe and had bruises on her body and thighs as well as scars on her face.

Modesta alleged that her employer had hit her with a cane, sticks and even punched her in the face and on her body. She also claimed she was only given only one meal per day, sometimes nothing at all.

"My boss would sometimes throw rice into the drain and make me eat from there," Modesta was quoted as saying by the Star online news.

She said she has been not paid since she started working in November 2007. Her salary was RM500 (Rp 1.4 million or around US$140) a month. The latest incident allegedly occurred at midnight on Thursday after her employer asked her why she had not done the laundry.

"I told my boss that it was going to rain and I was afraid the clothes would get wet if I hung them out. She just started hitting me and locked me out of the house," she said, adding that her employer would also make her work in another home of her employer's family in Kampung Baru.

Neighbors who saw the maid outside the house alerted the police.

Police picked up the employer for questioning and held her in custody, while Modesta was sent to Ampang Hospital for treatment.

Indonesian Embassy spokesman Widyarka Ryananta said doctors had confirmed Modesta's hearing had been impaired. "Her right eye is also damaged," he said.

Domestic helpers have filed up to 150 complaints every month with authorities in Indonesia, alleging ill treatment, excessive workloads, unpaid salaries and physical abuse in Malaysia.

The latest case to gain media attention involved 33-year-old Indonesian maid Siti Hajar who escaped earlier this month, claiming she was scalded with hot water and beaten.

Police detained her Malaysian employer, who faces up to 20 years in jail and a fine or whipping if convicted in court of causing grievous bodily harm.

Following public outcry against Malaysia, the Indonesia government has ordered employment agencies to stop sending workers to Malaysia to work as domestic helpers.

The measure took effect Friday and will remain in place until safeguards are implemented in Malaysia, Manpower Minister Erman Suparno said Thursday.

High-level talks will be held on July 15 with Malaysian counterparts to seek a resolution, he said.

More than 300,000 Indonesian women work as domestic helpers in Malaysia. Around 3,000 new maids head for Malaysia every month, most of them placed through specialized employment agencies.

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