A 16-year-old died at Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh yesterday morning after succumbing to an illness she contracted while working in virtual slavery as a maid in Malaysia, her family said.
Toch Srey Neth signed up to go to Malaysia as a maid through the now-defunct T&P Co when she was only 15 years old.
While there, she was reportedly beaten, under-fed and overworked without pay before being brought home, where she died a few weeks later of “multi-organ failure”, caused by “irreversible septic shock”, according to her death certificate.
“I am mourning my only daughter,” the victim’s mother, Chheang Nath, 47, tearfully told the Post over the sounds of a funeral ceremony. “When we saw that my lovely daughter died at the hospital, we panicked.”
Toch Srey Neth’s father, Toch Sarouen, 48, said that his daughter’s homecoming had been bittersweet.
“When she came back home, I was absolutely happy, but from what I was told, my daughter had fallen sick,” he said. “She did not dare to tell me of her employer’s beatings. She was afraid I would worry about her, but she told her aunt and neighbour that she had pains in her body from mistreatment and beatings, and that she did not have enough food.
“My daughter was healthy before going to Malaysia.”
Toch Sarouen said that the family had initially refused to let Toch Srey Neth work abroad, but eventually gave in when she insisted.
The family plans to file official complaints with NGOs after today’s cremation.
The government revoked the licence of T&P Co last year for sending under-age girls like Toch Srey Neth to work in Malaysia, and issued an arrest warrant for its former director.
Toch Srey Neth had listed her age as 23 on official documents to circumvent regulations preventing minors from working abroad.
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at Community Legal Education Center, said that Toch Srey Neth’s death was a tragic consequence of an ongoing problem.
“It is at least the second case this year of a maid dying. We are worried about human rights abuses in Malaysia. It is a serious kind of abuse,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at firstname.lastname@example.org