A Cambodian maid in Malaysia has committed suicide, another was allegedly raped by her employer and a third tortured, according to rights groups and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is investigating the cases.
An 18-year-girl is being sheltered at the Cambodian embassy after she was rescued from an employer who allegedly raped her in April and was arrested on Monday, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program and the Community Legal Education Centre said yesterday.
“She was only 16 when she was sent to Malaysia,” he said, adding that she had been sent by the recruitment firm T&P, which has since been shut down following a raft of exploitation and abuse scandals and was “famous for falsifying documents”.
The girl’s Malaysian employer, Liew Fos Chi, had been arrested after his wife found out about the alleged rape and filed a complaint against her husband, which he later forced her to withdraw, Tola said.
Nisha Jaya, a program officer with Malaysia-based group Tenaganita, said the victim had told her she had been raped once and molested on several occasions.
Based on information from agents and police, another Cambodian maid who committed suicide had become visibly depressed about two weeks before doing so, Jaya said.
“That was the only lead that was given, upon talking to the police, they said there was no foul play and therefore they had classified the case under suicide,” she said.
A ministry statement yesterday suggested the girl had been attacked by her employer before she took her life and said the embassy was intervening to retrieve her salary and provide support money for her family.
The statement said a third abuse victim, who was allegedly tortured and overworked by her boss, had filed a lawsuit against her employer but had withdrawn it because she wanted to return to Cambodia immediately.
These three cases come amid a recent spike in reported abuses against Cambodian maids in Malaysia and the landmark victory last week of one such victim, who successfully sued her employer.
In October, Prime Minister Hun Sen put a moratorium on sending maids to Malaysia after a wave of scandals that included alleged rapes, deaths, under-age recruitment and overwork.
Jaya said she was not surprised there had been “a huge increase” in cases lately, because many maids, coming to the end of two-year contracts, had an opportunity to report abuses to the Cambodian embassy when employers sought to renew their contracts.