Friday, June 22, 2007

Hotline for abused foreign housemaids
June 22, 2007

Government suspends the license of several maid agencies after an Indonesian maid escapes from her abusive employer using a rope to climb down from 15th floor apartment. Hotline is set up for foreign housemaids to call for help. Every month 1,200 Indonesian housemaids flee their place of work because of inhuman working conditions.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Malaysia has decided to take action to protect foreign women working in the country. The authorities have suspended the licenses of several agencies and set up a 24-hour telephone hot line for foreign housemaids to call for help if their bosses abuse them.

The hot line was created after an Indonesian maid incredibly escaped from the 15th floor apartment of her allegedly abusive employer last Saturday. Ceriyati Dapin, 33, fled her employer's Kuala Lumpur apartment by using a rope made from pieces of cloth to descend three floors outside the building before she froze from fear and was rescued by firefighters.

Dapin said she had been repeatedly beaten and starved by her employer, who is reportedly now in police custody pending police investigation into the maid’s claims.

The Dapin case highlights how much Malaysia relies on foreign labourers—mainly Indonesians—for domestic work.

Officials have acknowledged that some 1,200 Indonesian housemaids run away every month, often because of mistreatment or dissatisfaction over long working hours, lack of freedom of movement or unpaid salaries.

The authorities have suspended the licenses of 20 maid agencies and blacklisted 85 employers after complaints of irregularities and unpaid wages.

The agencies now have until June 30 to appeal or else lose their licenses permanently.

Malaysia’s Home Affairs Ministry set up a special 24-hour phone number to receive calls from mistreated maids.