When 26-year-old Toch Nai returned from Malaysia last year, the only “souvenirs” she says she brought back were the wounds she suffered from beatings.
Nai, a domestic worker, endured four years of torture at the hands of her employer. And a year after returning to her homeland, she is still struggling to come to terms with her experience.
“I came back home, but I will never forget.… My beating souvenirs are my wounds on my eye, arm and ear that I suffered from my employer,” she said. “Until now, I have not got any justice.”
Nai is just one of 372 victims that were involved in 160 cases reported to local rights group Adhoc in 2014. With the help of the NGO, 85 of them were repatriated.
At a press conference yesterday morning, the group said there were still 130 cases pending intervention in which “the victims have not yet received their compensation, salary or justice”.
The cases include disappearances, torture, withheld salaries and the forced extension of contracts.
In 2011, Cambodia introduced a moratorium on sending domestic workers to Malaysia amid mounting concerns over abuses, which led to several deaths.
But despite this, Adhoc says it has received a heavy flow of complaints from abused migrants and their families.
Adhoc president Thun Saray said that since 2010, the NGO has intervened in 965 cases of abuse and repatriated 311 victims.
“It’s a failure of the Cambodian government. They are so poor, that’s why they need jobs abroad, but most of them suffer,” he said.
At yesterday’s conference, where multiple women told their personal stories of loss and torment, Adhoc urged the government to take action by signing off on a long-drafted memorandum of understanding (MoU), which is slated to reopen a pipeline of workers to the country and offer vital safeguards.
But, while the MoU was meant to have been signed by the end of last year, Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said he was still unsure when this would happen.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong could not be reached.
As well as increasing efforts to sign and implement the MoU, Adhoc yesterday called on the government to prosecute recruitment agencies and illegal brokers involved in the abuse.
The Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia, the group added, should have a budget to assist victims, and the “relevant institutions” should find those who have disappeared.
Speaking at yesterday’s conference, 54-year-old Dol Chha said her daughter, Dol Khun, has been missing since 2010.
“I don’t know if she’s safe or not. I cannot contact her and she never calls me or sends money to me.… I go to sleep worrying about her every night. I miss her so much.”