Malasia - Domestic workers face abuse and even death (2012)

On 21 June, Deputy Human Resources Minister, Ms. Maznah Mazlan, told parliament that a total of 18,716 domestic workers ran away from their employers’ homes last year. In 2010, 247,069 foreign housemaids were employed in Malaysia, with 76.7% from Indonesia. The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) urged the government to ratify ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers in order to effectively address the problems encountered by migrant domestic workers in the country.

According to an MTUC survey on 510 domestic workers’ (mainly Indonesians and Filipinos) wages and working conditions, 26.4% complained that they did not get their wages and 7.8% complained that they were physically and verbally abused. 90% reported that they were not given a day off, while the remaining 10% who got a day off were not allowed to leave their homes. In some cases, they were only allowed two days in a month. Furthermore, 53% were required to work more than 16 hours a day. This also included domestic workers being sent to various places to work. Despite a significant rise in wage levels, 61% have reported that their monthly wages are now paid into their bank account.

On 5 June, Indonesian domestic worker, Ms Isti Komariyah, died at the University Malaya Medical Centre. She had not been paid any salary since she began work for a couple at Taman Sea Petaling Jaya in December 2008. Police classified the case as murder and detained her employers in connection with her death. On 6 July, Ms Va Sokhoeun, 38, a domestic worker from Cambodia sought refuge in the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia. She claimed that her employer had withheld her pay for seven months and that she had been sexually assaulted. On 25 July, Cambodian embassy officials in Malaysia began an investigation into the death of a Cambodian domestic worker in Penang following allegations made last week that she was abused. In August, Malaysian rights’ group Tenaganita said that it had rescued 41 domestic works from Cambodia from abusive employers.

On 14 October, Cambodia banned its citizens from going to work in Malaysia as domestic workers.

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