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Maid tells of Malaysia abuse

111206_04
Ouch Sovannary (left), the mother of migrant worker Phorn Sothea (centre), gestures to her daughter while speaking to lawmaker Mu Sochua yesterday. Phorn Sothea returned from Malaysia on Saturday.

A domestic migrant worker who returned to Cambodia on Saturday yesterday recounted two years of alleged physical abuse by her employer in Malaysia while she fulfilled a contract for a recruitment firm based in the capital.

At a press conference held by Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua at the National Assembly yesterday, 23-year-old Phorn Sothea of Kampong Cham province said she was abused on a daily basis and denied the right to contact her family while working under contract with recruitment firm VC Manpower.

“[My employer] said that she considered me as a dog,” Phorn Sothea said. “She beat me very cruelly. She poured hot water on my feet, body, pulled my head to hit the wall, pinched everywhere on my body, tore my lip … took the key to stab on my head until it bled, and tied my neck until I nearly died.”

Phorn Sothea revealed burn scars on her legs, shoulders and feet, and a scar protruding from her lip, which she said had healed over after her employer hit her.

“I didn’t have a chance to ask someone for help, and she threatened to kill me and my mother in Cambodia,” Phorn Sophea said, adding that she often worked 20-hour days.

A representative of VC Manpower who declined to be named said he did not know about the case and declined to comment further.

Hem Bunny, director of the employment and manpower department at the Ministry of Labour, and Seng Sakada, director-general of the ministry, could not be reached for comment.

Phorn Sothea’s mother, Ouch Sovannary, 51, said that VC Manpower staff photographed her daughter’s injuries yesterday and said they would ask the Malaysian Labour Ministry to request that the employer discuss the allegations. “The company staff told me to wait for awhile for them to find resolution for us, and if they cannot, I can do anything I want with the company and the employer,” she said, adding that she had demanded US$30,000 in compensation from the company and $2,300 in unpaid wages.

Separately, Mu Sochua said she had sent a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, requesting further investigation into the death of 18-year-old domestic worker Pov Nich in Malaysia in October.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department at the Ministry of Interior, said his office had requested that the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia ask relevant Malaysian authorities to re-examine Pov Nich’s death.

“The report that we received from the Cambodian embassy said that the reason that she died was because she drank medicine to kill herself,” he said. “We need to find out the reason why she took the medicine, whether she was sick or someone abused her or she had a problem with someone.”

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