Domestic workers will continue to be abused until there are tougher laws to protect them

Source: The Star Online

A display used in “Domestic Workers, Not Slaves”public awareness campaign, organised by advertising agency McCann Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with Tenaganita, held in 2012 at a mall in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: The Star filepics

They are the first ones to wake up in the household and often, the last to go to bed. In between, they slave it out – cooking, cleaning, taking care of children and the elderly, grooming and walking pets, washing cars, gardening and attending to all other needs of the household.

These are the daily tasks of most domestic workers. They work hard and they work long, yet are disqualified from basic protections that workers enjoy: fixed working hours, leave days, medical coverage or even fair wages.

This lack of legal protection leaves domestic workers with virtually no rights; vulnerable to exploitation and abuse which human rights activists want the government to address immediately.

Failure to do this is likely to result in more fatalities. In January, Indonesian domestic worker Adelina Lisao died in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Lisao is just one in a long list of domestic workers who have suffered at the hands of abusive employers. Read more

Rights abuse: Malaysians will be affected too, warns MP

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim today condemned the death of a maid who was allegedly abused by her employers, warning that if human rights are not protected for everyone, Malaysians too could fall victim to such acts.

Sim, whose staff were alerted to the situation by neighbours on Feb 10, said 21-year-old Adelina had been “totally deprived of basic human rights”.

“Even if we are not altruistic and do not care for foreigners, allowing gross human rights violations to go unchecked will eventually corrupt the system of protection not only for migrants but also for Malaysians.

“If someone can be subjected to workplace bullying, violence and even be tortured to death here in Malaysia, what makes us think that the next person will not be a Malaysian?” he said in a statement.

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After maid’s death, group demands law to protect migrant workers

Source: Malay Mail Online

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 12 — Malaysia must enact laws to safeguard migrant worker welfare, said Tenaganita today following a domestic worker’s death after allegedly being forced to sleep outdoors with a family’s dog.

Director of the rights advocacy group, Glorene Das, expressed her outrage today at the continued incidents of domestic worker abuse in Malaysia.

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‘Separate law needed to protect foreign maids’

Source: The Star

The Star

Das: The current Employment Act does not fully apply to foreign workers.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaganita has called for a separate legislation to protect the rights of foreign ­workers, saying the current Employment Act does not have the provisions to do so.

Tenaganita director Glorene Das said incidences of abuse among domestic workers were on the rise due to existing loopholes in the Act.

“For example, a labour inspector cannot enter the private domains of a house to inspect how domestic workers are doing.

“That is why a separate legislation with proper terms and conditions are needed,” she told ­reporters at an event to mark International Migrants Day.

“After studying the current Employment Act, we realised that it does not apply fully to foreign ­workers,” she said.

Das praised the Government’s efforts to introduce the system to hire maids directly online, as it would eliminate middlemen in the process.

“Tenaganita supports direct ­hiring because domestic workers are better protected and there will be more accountability since the employer will be hiring directly from the Government,” Das said.  Read more

Conclude regional agreement to protect foreign workers, says Malaysian Bar

Source: FMT News

M Ramachelvam says the present arrangement of bilateral labour agreements does not adequately protect migrant workers or workers’ welfare, or ensure decent work for migrants. Pic drawn from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The welfare of foreign employees can be enhanced if the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) formalises a decade-old declaration to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers, says the Malaysian Bar.

Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Committee chairperson M Ramachelvam said the Asean declaration was initiated in January 2007.

“Article 22 of the declaration tasked Asean with developing an instrument which is in line with the region’s vision of a caring and sharing community,” he said.

However, he added that Asean had failed to adopt the framework during a meeting in April this year.

“It is hoped that the instrument will be adopted at the next Asean Summit in the Philippines in November,” he said. Read more

Bar Council: Stop identifying domestic workers as servants

Source: FMT News

Bar Council calls on the government to give these workers key labour rights, adding that they are not ‘second-class workers’. Pic drawn from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar Council wants Putrajaya to stop identifying domestic workers as servants as a first step towards recognising their economic and social contributions.

Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Committee chairperson M Ramachelvam said it was unfortunate that the Employment Act 1955 and the proposed 2014 Regulations (Terms & Conditions of Employment) used the phrase “domestic servants”.

“Even the Guidelines and Tips for Employers of Foreign Domestic Helpers launched two months ago uses the term ‘servants’,” he told FMT on the outcome of a meeting with representatives of the human resources ministry, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and local and foreign civil society members on June 16.

The meeting was held in conjunction with International Domestic Workers Day and the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the ILO Convention No 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Read more

Suhakam not happy with how Malaysians treat their maids

Source: FMT News

The national rights commission’s chief says locals do not respect the rights of domestic maids. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians do not treat their domestic maids with dignity, said the government’s human rights commission Suhakam.

“We trample on their rights and ignore their needs to be respected and protected,” said Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail in remarks on Consultation on Domestic Workers at the Malaysian Bar here.

He said incidents of abuses and in some extreme cases, deaths of workers, had given the country a bad name.

He said nine cases involving domestic workers were reported to Suhakam last year, with issues ranging from forced labour, arbitrary arrest, deportation, physical abuse to human trafficking.

There are some 130,000 documented foreign maids, 90% of who are Indonesians. However, the Bar Council says there are also an equal number of domestic helpers without work permit. Read more

Maintain ban on Cambodian maids, says Tenaganita

Source: FMT News

The freeze should continue until the government makes changes to its institutional framework to ensure the recognition of domestic workers as workers, says Tenaganita executive director. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Tenaganita has called on the Cambodian government to continue to freeze the recruitment of domestic workers to Malaysia for now.

Its executive director, Glorene A Das, said the freeze should continue until the Malaysian government makes changes to its institutional framework to ensure the recognition of domestic workers as workers.

“The Employment Act clearly fails to protect the rights of domestic workers, who continue to be recognised only as ‘servants’ under the act,” Das said.

She said this definition would continue to lead to a relationship of master–servant where the employer had total control over the worker and thus could exploit her.

“Whenever there is publicity over an abuse or death of a domestic worker, the government, through its ministers, gives political assurances that do not convert to a rights protection framework,” Das said in a statement today. Read more

Silent fear, a tale of two maids in Malaysia

Source: FMT News

Abuse of Indonesian maids is common, says one who has seen a friend suffer. Pic from FMT News.

KAJANG: Imagine living in a constant state of anxiety or fear, unsure of when you’ll be paid, and knowing that many of your friends are in a similar situation, with some of them facing daily threats of abuse.

This is the story of two Indonesian maids, who told FMT of their life as domestic helps in Malaysia.

Nurul, 33, recalled watching helplessly as the authorities dragged away one of her friends who had attempted to flee Malaysia illegally. “She desperately wanted to go back to her hometown because she could not stand being abused by her employer.” Read more

Behind closed doors: A tale of ongoing domestic servitude in Malaysia

Source: Asian Correspondent

Stock image via Multi-share / Shutterstock

Stock image via Multi-share / Shutterstock

SOK Nay still vividly remembers the two weeks she suffered with second-degree burns from kneeling on the hot asphalt outside her employer’s home. She was being punished for incorrectly cleaning a couch.

It was 2009 and she was working for an ethnic Chinese family in the suburbs of Sungai Buloh. It was January and nearing Chinese New Year, so “Madam” was rightfully angry with her error that might have caused embarrassment when family came to visit, she believed.

But she never expected the punishment.

“The couch wasn’t spoilt at all, it was just wet but she didn’t like it, she was very angry so she had me kneel down in front of the house, outside the gate,” Nay, a Cambodian domestic worker in Malaysia at the time, says in a recent interview. Read more