Arguably one of the most common practices in Malaysia that continue to endure is the employment of live-in domestic workers among suburban families. Often brought in from either Indonesia or the Philippines, they are typically tasked to keep the home clean, while also routinely required to take up childcare responsibilities and on occasion, preparing meals for the family.
Unfortunately over the course of the many years that these domestic maids have been employed in Malaysia, a number of prolific cases of abuse under the hands of local employers have also emerged. In fact in 2018, a 21-year-old Indonesian maid was allegedly abused to death under the hands of her 61-year-old employer, who would later be acquitted of the crime.
This is in addition to another Datin, who had pleaded guilty to previously causing grievous harm to her maid in 2016. She was put behind bars in 2020, and is now serving an 8-year sentence.
2 Indonesian maids escape from M’sian ‘Datuk’
And now, yet another instance of abuse involving two domestic maids have emerged locally. According to Free Malaysia Today, 36-year-old Indonesian maid Satuni (not her real name), had escaped from her employer after having been the victim of abuse for over the span of 4 months. Hailing from East Java, she told the local news outlet that she was hired by a glamorous female ‘Datuk’ who would often appear on local magazine covers and currently manages a welfare organisation.
Alleging that she would be kicked, slapped and beaten on the head with a broomstick by her employer, Satuni also claims that she was forced to work even when she suffered from COVID-19. What’s more, she said she would often work from 5am until midnight every day of the week, and would receive punishment over trivial and illogical reasons, such as failing to cleaning up dust that had fallen from the wall to the floor.
She had even received abuse from the Datuk’s three children, with one often reminding her that she was a ‘poor person’. Satuni adds that she was talked into working for the Datuk without having signed any official agreement or contract.
Satuni’s claims were echoed by another maid, Yati (not her real name), who also worked for the same household. Making similar allegations, she said she was reprimanded almost daily over illogical reasons.
“I had to put the shoes on Datuk’s feet every time she wanted to go out. If I make a little mistake, I will be kicked.” she said.
Both women escaped to the Indonesian Embassy
She would eventually reach her breaking-point when the Datuk slapped her across the face, and asked to be sent back to Indonesia if the woman was unhappy with the work she was doing.
But as she was unwilling to leave without her friend Satuni, both women decided to escape together while the Datuk was away on her Umrah pilgrimage on 2nd May 2022 ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri. A neighbour drove both women to the Indonesian Embassy to get help, where they later learned that they were not the only ones who have escaped from the Datuk’s home.
Apparently, a driver, a guard, and another maid, all of whom were Indonesian, had also previously fled from the very same household. A representative from the Embassy said the embassy would look into taking legal action against the employer. According to him, as many as 33 domestic workers have sought protection from the embassy over instances of abuse or non-payment.