Domestic worker abuse in Malaysia and neighbouring countries

Ever since the Nirmala Bonat abuse case made headlines in 2004, Malaysia has been tainted with a bad reputation for abusing domestic workers or “modern-day slavery” cases over the years.


The common forms of abuse towards domestic workers are food deprivation, poor living and working conditions, and salary deduction.


Last year, 21 year-old Adelina Lisao was rescued from her employer’s home in Penang on February 10 after neighbours reported on her living conditions. Adelina had been sleeping next to a dog under a car porch attached to the house. Unfortunately, she passed away on the following day at Bukit Mertajam Hospital.


Another Indonesian domestic worker, Isti Komariyah, was starved to death by a Malaysian couple back in 2011.


In a separate case, a Cambodian woman was also starved to death by her Malaysian employers in 2012.


According to International Labour Organization (ILO), Asia is the biggest home to foreign maids or domestic workers.


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, abuse, domestic worker


Other than Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong also have their fair share of domestic workers abuse cases.


The recent case in Singapore involved a married couple forcing their Myanmar maid, Moe Moe Than, to eat her own vomit and threatening to kill her family in her home country if she reported them to the authorities.


The couple has been sentenced to prison in March and ordered by the court to pay Than compensation.


The highlighted case in Hong Kong is the abuse of Indonesian Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. She suffered for months before she returned to her home country in critical condition.


Executive Director of migrant rights group Tenaganita, Glorene Dass, has called for a tougher laws to protect these workers from abusive employers.


According to Dass, Tenaganita handled 120 cases of abused foreign workers from June until December 2017.