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Anger over alleged torture of maid in Hong Kong

[International Migrants Alliance Flag] image by Zoltan Horvath

[International Migrants Alliance Flag] image by Zoltan Horvath

HONG KONG (AFP) – Migrant worker groups in Hong Kong Tuesday expressed anger over the alleged torture of an Indonesian maid after reports the police were not pursuing the case, which has renewed concerns over the abuse of domestic helpers.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih reportedly returned to Indonesia on January 10 after she was allegedly abused and tortured by her employer over the course of eight months.

Local migrant worker groups said the 23-year-old remained in hospital in central Java, with her condition improving.

“We are very angry with the situation, it’s not our first case,” Eni Lestari, chairperson at the International Migrants Alliance, told AFP.

“This is just too much. We should question why Indonesians helpers are not even able to help themselves when they are abused,” she said, adding that her group planned to stage a protest in the coming days.

Other groups called on the governments of Hong Kong and Indonesia to launch an investigation after local media reports said officers were not treating it as an active criminal case.

“This is very big. Those responsible should go to court. We also request our government to help her come back to Hong Kong so she can report to the police,” Mia Sumiati, chairwoman of Komunitas Migrant Indonesia which runs a shelter home for abused maids in Hong Kong, told AFP.

However late Tuesday a police spokesman said a criminal investigation had been launched.

“Upon further investigation, the case is now listed in the category of assault,” the spokesman said in an email reply to AFP late Tuesday.

Police had previously refused to investigate the case, the South China Morning Post had reported earlier.

Hong Kong is home to nearly 300,000 maids from mainly Southeast Asian countries – predominantly Indonesia and the Philippines – and has come under growing criticism from concern groups over their treatment.

Amnesty International in November condemned the “slavery-like” conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian women who work in the Asian financial hub as domestic staff and accused authorities of “inexcusable” inaction.

It found that Indonesians were exploited by recruitment and placement agencies who seize their documents and charge them excessive fees, with false promises of high salaries and good working conditions.

Local media reports said Sulistyaningsih could have been abused for up to eight months after arriving in Hong Kong in May last year, during her employment with a local family in the former British colony.

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