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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maid death numbers shock

Maid death numbers shock

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SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua (right) speaks to domestic migrant workers at an SKMM Investment Group training centre in Phnom Penh, shortly before the women were freed by police last month.

The Cambodian embassy in Malaysia has reported that nine migrant domestic workers have died there this year, including one on Sunday, a rights activist and an opposition parliamentarian visiting Kuala Lumpur said yesterday.

After a press conference held by the Malaysian rights group Tenaganita, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said he would seek to find where the deceased woman’s body was being stored.

“We just got the information this morning from one of the staff at the embassy that there was another death on Sunday  . . . it was a shock to me,” Moeun Tola said.

Embassy staff had also confirmed that a total of 11 Cambodians, nine of them maids, had died in Malaysia this  year, he said.

Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez said the high number of deaths reflected the serious regulatory inadequac-ies of the sector in Malaysia.

“It is a big number, but I am not surprised, looking at the conditions and the protection mechanisms and the isolat-ion,” she said.

The Cambodian government last month announced a temporary ban on sending migrant domestic workers to Malaysia amid a litany of abuse scandals that have surfaced both during the recruits’ placements abroad and inside training centres within the Kingdom.

On the sidelines of the same press conference, opposition Sam Rainsy Party legislator Mu Sochua said the circumstances of the latest death remained unclear.

“The hospital says she caught tuberculosis. We need to investigate,” she said, adding that the Cambodian embassy had committed itself to  ensuring that migrant domestic workers were provided with a formal registration mechan-ism in Malaysia.

The Cambodian ambass-ador to Malaysia, Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, said she was too busy to talk and Ung Vantha, second secretary at the embassy, did not pick up the phone.

A press statement released by Tenaganita made recommendations in response to reported abuses, including the development of standardised contracts for all domestic workers, regardless of their nation of origin, and an ASEAN-wide framework to provide minimum standards for the industry.

Mu Sochua said she wanted the temporary ban lifted within three months, but not before comprehensive reforms like these and others that provided legal avenues of redress for migrant domestic workers and maximum working hours were introduced.

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