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Returnee maid takes own life

A woman reads advertisements for maids outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. A maid who returned from Malaysia with signs of mental illness after suffering abuse there took her own life on Sunday.
A woman reads advertisements for maids outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. A maid who returned from Malaysia with signs of mental illness after suffering abuse there took her own life on Sunday. AFP

Returnee maid takes own life

A Tbong Khmum woman, whose family said she had been plagued by major personality changes and signs of mental illness since returning from working as a maid in Malaysia, hanged herself with a hammock cord in her house Sunday afternoon.

Ngor Srey Lim, 30, went to Malaysia in 2008. When she returned in April, her parents hardly recognised their daughter, said Ou Sotheary, the police chief in Kor commune, where the victim lived.

“Her parents did not dare to let her work or leave her at home alone because she did not understand when people spoke to her,” Chhem Samnang, the Kor commune chief said in a phone interview.

Srey Lim’s parents had to leave the house to do some farm work on Sunday. They returned to see that their daughter had killed herself in the bathroom. The parents could not be reached yesterday.

According to human rights groups, many Cambodian women who go to work in Malaysia come back with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental problems as a result of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

“Malaysia has history of treating migrant workers poorly,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre. “These women continue to suffer in silence.”

Despite a 2011 ban on sending migrant workers to Malaysia, almost 8,000 women continue to work as maids there, according to recent government data. Many of them, such as Srey Lim, go there illegally through Vietnam.

According to rights group Adhoc, women who choose to work as maids in Malaysia predominantly come from poor farming families and have no one to turn to for help.

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