Female migrant workers suffered their largest-ever recorded number of abuses last year, a report released by rights group Adhoc yesterday says.
“It was noted that 2011 was the worst year so far recorded for violations against migrant workers, in particular among labourers who were sent to work in Malaysia,” the annual report on Women and Children’s Rights in Cambodia states.
Adhoc president Thun Saray said the number of such cases handled by the NGO had doubled from 51 in 2010 to 102 last year, prompting a temporary ban on sending maids to Malaysia.
The report states that in most cases, the abuse against victims first took place during their training as domestic workers in Cambodia and continued or worsened during their work in Malaysia.
The report also notes that although the ban was a “positive step”, it had resulted in 30,000 workers in Malaysia potentially “facing isolation and loss of communication with their relatives”, as some recruitment agencies had their labour export licences withdrawn or were shut down.
“We could not resolve some of the complaints we received, because the workers’ families did not have contact with their children,” Lim Mony, the deputy head of Adhoc’s women’s section, said.
Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies president An Bunhak said he welcomed the report, but said investigation was necessary to ensure the complaints received were valid.
“We must show that all the cases are real cases, and not misunderstandings,” he said.
An Bunhak denied allegations of abuse in training centres, saying ACRA recruitment agencies had to comply with a pre-departure curriculum developed by the association, and were monitored by officials from the Ministry of Labour.
The report notes that there was “no notable decrease in the number of cases of domestic violence” and 2011 was the first year in which the number of reported rape cases had not increased.