Not being able to keep their own smartphone, not receiving their salaries, having their passports seized by their employers, and not having rest days are among the complaints frequently received by migrant domestic workers’ associations in Malaysia.According to Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers Association (Pertimig) board member Nasrikah, violence against domestic workers in Malaysia is not a new problem, but it will continue to be a frequent occurrence due to the mentality of the employers towards their employees. “Employers’ thinking towards workers need to change such that domestic workers are workers too.“Please treat us like other workers. Please treat us like people and not like slaves,” Nasrikah told an online press conference on violence against domestic workers today.Therefore, she said, it is time for the Malaysian government to provide protection for domestic workers and not discriminate them.Association of Nationalist Overseas Filipino Workers (AMMPO) adviser Liezl Galdo, meanwhile, urged the authorities to conduct spot checks on domestic workers to ensure their working conditions are monitored and not abused by their employers.While recounting the abuse suffered by Nirmala Bonat in 2004 and Adelina Lisao in 2018, Galdo said such abuses would continue if adequate checks are not being done.Liezl GaldoNirmala was an Indonesian domestic worker who suffered abuses by her employer on several occasions, including by burning her with a clothes iron.Adelina, who is an Indonesian domestic worker, had suffered beatings and was left to sleep on her employers’ car porch. She was rescued through an intervention by Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim on Feb 10, 2018.Nevertheless, the 26-year-old succumbed to internal injuries despite being admitted to Bukit Mertajam Hospital the following day.“Just as what Nasrikah had said, treat us like humans. We, migrants, have come here to work and seek a better future, not to be treated with cruelty.“We don’t deserve such treatment or torture in the hands of Malaysians,” Galdo said.The press conference also discussed the case of a domestic worker, identified only as MH, who was rescued by the police last month after it was discovered that she was being abused by her employer.Her employer had allegedly scalded her with hot water and left her to starve throughout her employment.NasrikahSpeaking on the complaints frequently received by Pertimig and AMMPO, Nasrikah said one complaint is that their employers would only allow their workers to communicate with their families once a month.“Even that was using their employer’s phone. If anything happens to them, it is very difficult for them to make a complaint,” she said.Nasrikah said Pertimig also received frequent complaints of employers withholding their workers’ salaries on grounds of waiting for their contracts to end.“We have also received complaints that no rest days are given. Some employers won’t allow their Indonesian domestic workers to go outside over fears that they would flee,” she said.Galdo said apart from issues relating to rest days and salaries, AMMPO also frequently received complaints from the workers that their employers confiscated their passports, which caused problems when they encountered law enforcers outside.“When this happens and they are approached by the police for their passports, the workers could not show their passports because their employers have kept them,” she said.Meanwhile, the press conference, organised by the Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) and Towards 189 Coalition, also urged the government to curb the issue by improving checks on workers and protecting their welfare.LLRC chairperson N Gopal Krishnam, among others, urged the government to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention on Domestic Workers, enforce laws against violent employers and protect the victims’ rights by providing legal assistance and counselling.rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr“We also urge the government to set up an effective inspection system (for domestic workers) that is conducted at their workplace regularly, without advance notice,” Gopal said.
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