A 60-year-old Indonesian maid was allegedly slapped, kicked and hit on the head with a broom as well as insulted every day by her employer, a flashy ‘Datuk’, before she managed to escape.
Satuni (not her real name) was also attacked and forced to work by the Datuk even when she was unwell due to contracting Covid-19.
“My energy was drained, so I collapsed outside the toilet, where I was kicked twice. Then the Datuk yelled at me, telling me to stop being dramatic,” she told FMT (Free Malaysia Today).
Satuni is currently seeking refuge at the Indonesian Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, awaiting the chance to return to her hometown but the abuse at the hands of the ‘Datuk’ is unlikely to be forgotten.
Apart from physical abuse, Satuni was not paid for four months working in the Datuk’s bungalow in Shah Alam.
According to her, her employer is a ‘glamorous woman’ who manages a charity foundation and has graced the covers of various lifestyle magazines.
Recalling her painful experience, she also claimed that she was beaten for trivial reasons such as ceiling dust falling to the floor.
“She grabbed a broom, and splass (hit) my head three times. I said, “Datuk, I’ve never had an employer as vicious as you”,” Satuni told reporters.
The victim hails from Indramayu, West Java, and claims to have fallen into the trap of an unethical maid agency which encouraged her to work at the Datuk’s house without an official agreement or contract.
Fortunately, the issue of housemaids being abused by employers and misled by agencies could potentially be curbed starting next week, when all Indonesian maids and local employers will be bound by the new terms of the contract agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia.
The contract is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic helpers (PDI) in Malaysia. Its signing was witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Istana Merdeka.
Among other terms, Indonesian maids will receive a minimum salary of RM1,500, adequate rest time and a clear to-do list.
Satuni and many other maids were denied all these basic requirements before. Instead they became victims of physical, mental and sometimes even sexual abuse.
“At five or six in the morning I woke up to work, only entering my room to rest at one o’clock in the morning. I forgot to eat, and didn’t even have time for breakfast. I cried every day, ” she explained.
She said her employer had three children, including an adopted son named V (not his real name) – who often insulted her, telling her that she was merely a poor person who was stuck in Malaysia.
The senior citizen said she had also been slapped by the Datuk for reprimanding her son.
“If not for my friends, I don’t know what kind of fate I’d be tackling. I cried day and night when I was there. Even in the middle of the night, I would stay up crying, thinking about my child at home,” said Satuni.
She fled to the Indonesian Embassy with a fellow maid who was hired at the bungalow a few months later.
Like Satuni, Yati (nickname) was also beaten and excessively chided, resulting in the two of them to growing all the more determined to escape.
“We got scolded everyday, every second of every hour. Whenever Datuk wanted to go out, I had to put my shoes on immediately. I’d get kicked if anything went slightly wrong.
For example, if I failed to put on my shoes quickly enough, she would toss them away,” said Yati.
Yati and Satuni were lucky to get the help of neighbours who were concerned about their plight. They offered to take the two women away from the residential area to be sent directly to the Indonesian Embassy.
The two victims seized the opportunity when the Datuk left for Mecca to perform umrah before Aidilfitri, on May 2.
Upon residing at the embassy for a few days, Yati and Satuni discovered that the driver, the bungalow guard and another maid, all Indonesians, had also fled the Datuk’s bungalow after suffering mistreatment.
A representative of the Indonesian Embassy told FMT that his party was trying to take court action against the Datuk in order to obtain justice for all the workers, including Satuni and Yati.
He claimed that there were 33 domestic workers seeking protection at the embassy following abuse or non-payment of salaries by their respective employers.
A similar case also occurred four years ago, whereby Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali was sentenced to 8 years in prison for abuse of her Indonesian maid.
The convicted pleaded guilty to causing grievous harm on her 19-year-old maid using a kitchen knife, steel mop, clothes hanger and an umbrella at the Shah Alam High Court.
The matter garnered public interest and was said to have strained diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Indonesia.