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Friday, August 12, 2011

Joint call for freeze on Cambodian maids

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:44 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Tenaganita and Cambodian opposition MP have linked arms to stop the rising abuse of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia.
PETALING JAYA: Tenaganita and Cambodian opposition MP, Mu Sochua, today issued a joint call for a freeze on the recruitment of Cambodian domestic workers to Malaysia.
The call comes amidst the alarming rise in abuse and exploitation of Cambodian domestic workers in the country.
Last month an underage Cambodian domestic worker was found dead outside her employer’s house in Penang while another was recently rescued from her abusive employer in Segambut.
Mu Sochua, a well-known figure in the Sam Rainsy Party and a former Women’s Affairs Minister, arrived in Malaysia yesterday after numerous attempts to engage the Malaysian government failed.

Terming the abuse of her countrywomen as a “very dark corner of domestic work”, she expressed deep concern that neither of the country’s government has responded to her request and letters over the issue.
“This is not about social work but about two governments being completely aware of the situation but doing nothing to secure the rights of domestic workers,” she told the press at Tenaganita’s headquarters today.
“We are talking about child labour here. When I was a minister I worked extensively on human traffficking. I know the market and the business, and it is the same in these cases.”
Mu Sochua also stated her conviction that the death of the Cambodian domestic worker in Penang was not from pneumonia as claimed by the police.

Lack of response
FMT had earlier reported that 15-year-old Choy Phich was suspected to have died from abuse and that the police were allegedly bribed to resolve the case quickly. Mu Sochua, however, refused to believe this.
“Even if she had died from pneumonia, why was she not given medical treatment?” she asked. “One doesn’t die from pneumonia overnight outside her employer’s back door.”
“”I have written numerous letters to the Malaysian ambassador in Cambodian urging an investigation into her death and I am deeply disappointed by the lack of response.”
According to Tenaganita, the freeze on recruitment of Indonesian domestic workers over the past three years saw a sharp spike in the arrival of their Cambodian counterparts to Malaysia.
“Instead of addressing with urgency the extremely dire issues and key concerns that led to the freeze on Indonesia domestic workers, the Malaysian government has intead shut its eyes and moved to a more vulnerable and poverty-plagued country,” Tenaganita director, Irene Fernandez, said.
Of the current 50,000 Cambodian domestic workers in the country, 30,000 arrived this year alone and 41 have since been rescued by Tenaganita.
In all the 41 cases the passports of these domestic workers were held by their employers, they were not given a single day off and none had a contract signed between them and their employer.
Fernandez said that various forms of abuse were also evident in most of these cases with 56% suffering physical abuse, 26% were sexually abused and 25% were malnourished. Some 42% were also forced to work double jobs.

Recruited through fraud
Almost half were also younger than the legal employment age of 21-years-old and Tenaganita’s investigations revealed that they had their ages changed at the point of recruitment.
“This trend indicates that children are being recruited to be domestic workers through fraud,” Fernandez said. “And yet little is done to stop this form of child labour.”
“Malaysia has seen an increase in the number of human trafficking victims and the government remains complicit. Its unwillingness to address the human rights of these domestic workers has not only increased the threats to their safety and security but has also effectively rendered them into slaves.”
Fernandez also slammed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 as nothing more than a public relations exercise.
“So we call on the Cambodian government to freeze the recruitment of domestic workers to Malaysia until the institutional framework has changed to ensure their recognition as workers,” she said.
Mu Sochua added that she had already called for the freeze but her government had remained silent.
She isn’t surprised.
“We’re talking about a million-dollar business here,” she said. “But we will push until both governments realise that the world is watching them. And I’m prepared to take this to the United Nations if necessary.”

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