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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Returning maids, fishermen share familiar tales of abuse

Returning maids, fishermen share familiar tales of abuse

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A domestic migrant worker returns to Cambodia on Friday from Malaysia. A total of four maids and eight fishermen were repatriated after being forced to work in slave-like conditions. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Eight Cambodian fishermen and four Cambodian maids were repatriated from Malaysia on Friday after finding themselves forced to work in slavery-like conditions, despite being promised high-paying jobs there by brokers and recruitment firms.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said in a press release on Friday the Cambodian government had co-operated with Malaysian authorities and the International Organization for Migration to return the trafficked victims to Cambodia.

Sin Sokhoun, 42, a fisherman from Kampong Speu province, said he paid 400,000 riels (US$100) to the brokers.

Once a farmer, he was lured abroad by the promise of high salaries, but after his ordeal, he said, he had told his son not to make the same mistake.

“I felt embarrassed when I came back to my homeland, because I was cheated into working,” he said. “We worked every day until night but we did not get a salary.”

Lim Mony, deputy head of the women’s section of rights group Adhoc, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport the victims had been rescued after their families filed complaints to NGOs.

“We do not yet have details about what happened to them, especially the maids,” she said. “We need them to speak to the police. They were acutely mistreated, which is why their families filed complaints.”

The four maids who were repatriated wore scarves to cover their heads, and declined to speak to the press.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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