KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Indonesia may soon lift a ban on supplying maids to Malaysia after receiving promises of tougher steps to curb the mistreatment of domestic workers, an Indonesian official said Monday, July 6. The Indonesian government announced last month that it would stop sending maids to its neighbor until stronger protection is implemented to safeguard them. More than 300,000 Indonesian women work as maids in more prosperous Malaysia, more than any other country.
Indonesian Manpower Minister Erman Suparno said, after meeting Malaysian officials Monday, that both sides will discuss stronger measures over the next few weeks to punish employers who physically abuse their maids and to increase their wages and days off.
“We are very confident and very happy because (the Malaysian side) is very responsive to improve the quality and protection for the domestic workers,” Suparno told reporters.
Malaysia recruited about 4,000 Indonesian maids each month before the ban. Hundreds of maids file complaints every year alleging ill treatment, overwork, and unpaid salaries.
In the most recent abuse case, a 25-year-old Indonesian claimed she was beaten and punched by her employer and had not been paid for two years. She was rescued with bruises and scars after a neighbor called the police. The case is under investigation.
Last month, a Malaysian woman was charged with scalding her 33-year-old Indonesian maid with hot water and injuring her with scissors and a hammer. The employer faces up to 20 years in jail.
Malaysia has said it plans to change its labor laws to give maids a weekly rest day and other benefits such as compensation for accidents at work. They will also get a list of telephone contacts for embassy, police, and welfare officials to report abuse. ♦