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Issue #1675      March 4, 2015

Employer jailed for maid’s abuse

A Hong Kong employer has been jailed for six years for beating and starving her Indonesian maid and keeping her prisoner.

Law Wantung, who had faced a maximum sentence of seven years, “showed no compassion” to her maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and other domestic staff, said Judge Amanda Woodcock in handing down the sentence.

Ms Law saw her staff as “people that are beneath her” said Judge Woodcock.

“It is regrettable that this conduct is not rare and, sadly, is often dealt with in the criminal courts,” she added. After the verdict, Ms Sulistyaningsih said that she was happy and “appreciated” the judgement, but still felt that six years was not long enough.

“I’m still not satisfied with six years’ imprisonment, because of what she has done to me,” she said.

The judge called for action over laws which leave domestic workers exposed to abuse by stipulating they must live with their employer.

She also called for an investigation by Hong Kong and Indonesian authorities into employment agencies that charge domestic workers huge fees which are then deducted from their salaries.

Ms Law was eventually convicted on 18 of the 20 charges laid against her, including grievous bodily harm, assault, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages.

But activists remained reserved over whether the case would bring change.

“It could send a message to other employers who are doing similar things,” said Aaron Ceradoy of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants.

“But whether it will be effective still remains to be seen.”

Morning Star

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