Anger over alleged torture of maid in Hong Kong

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 14 2014 10:19 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2014 07:32 AM

HONG KONG - Migrant workers groups in Hong Kong Tuesday expressed anger over the alleged torture of an Indonesian maid after reports the police were not pursuing the case, which has renewed concerns over the abuse of domestic helpers.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih reportedly returned to Indonesia on January 10 after she was allegedly abused and tortured by her employer over the course of eight months.

Local migrant workers groups said the 23-year-old remained in hospital in central Java, with her condition improving.

"We are very angry with the situation, it's not our first case," Eni Lestari, chairperson at the International Migrants Alliance, told AFP.

"This is just too much. We should question why Indonesians helpers are not even able to help themselves when they are abused," she said, adding that her group planned to stage a protest in the coming days.

Other groups called on the governments of Hong Kong and Indonesia to launch an investigation.

"This is very big. Those responsible should go to court. We also request our government to help her come back to Hong Kong so she can report to the police," Mia Sumiati, chairwoman of Komunitas Migrant Indonesia which runs a shelter home for abused maids in Hong Kong, told AFP.

Police have refused to investigate the case, the South China Morning Post said.

"The helper's employment agency made a report on January 12, but the agency did not provide evidence to confirm where her injuries came from," a police spokeswoman told the paper.

The police were not immediately available to comment Tuesday but have said they were unable to collect evidence since the woman had left the city.

Hong Kong is home to nearly 300,000 maids from mainly Southeast Asian countries -- predominantly Indonesia and the Philippines -- and has come under growing criticism from concern groups over their treatment.

Amnesty International in November condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian women who work in the Asian financial hub as domestic staff and accused authorities of "inexcusable" inaction.

It found that Indonesians were exploited by recruitment and placement agencies who seize their documents and charge them excessive fees, with false promises of high salaries and good working conditions.

Local media reports said Sulistyaningsih could have been abused for up to eight months after arriving in Hong Kong in May last year, and was banned from speaking to the others during her employment with a local family in the former British colony.