A Cambodian woman who went to Saudi Arabia five years ago to work as a maid has posted a video to her Facebook page pleading for the help of Prime Minister Hun Sen after alleging she has endured years of abuse.
Ken Chantha, 38, also claimed her passport was being held by her employer.
Chantha, from Salakamroek commune in Siem Reap province, said she has worked in four different households over the course of five years, and hadn’t been able to reach the person who sent her to work there. A distraught Chantha pleaded for word to reach Hun Sen.
“Please help me, share this video so that it reaches our prime minister so that I can get help. I don’t know who can help me in Saudi Arabia, so I am appealing to Cambodians to help me,” she said.
Chantha described the hardships she has allegedly endured and the dishonesty of her employers.
“When I worked with the first employer, they beat me regularly and caused one of my legs to break. I was always hungry,” she said.
“After 10 months, they sent me to work with another employer. He told me his wife didn’t have children, so I thought it wouldn’t be so bad. But after seven months this employer sent me to work with his second wife, who has six children, and they only let me eat at 7pm.”
After Chantha’s appeal to her employer about his wife’s abuse was ignored, she threatened to escape and report the matter to the police.
Fearing the law, she said, the husband sent her to a fourth household where her predicament improved.
“But after my contract ended, they refused to let me return to Cambodia. My passport was held by them as well,’’ Chantha said.
Othsman Hassan, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh and the government point person when a foreign worker seeks help to return home, said: “The government really wants to help and rescue those like Chantha . . . but the problem is, we often don’t get enough detailed information, such as a phone number, address or employer information. So it is very difficult to help because we can’t find them.”
Hassan said that although the Kingdom did not have an embassy in Saudi Arabia, the countries have excellent collaboration between the Saudi and Cambodian ministries of labour. “Both are willing to help rescue workers if we have adequate information.’’