KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: Two people have been arrested in Indonesia on human trafficking charges in connection with the death of a maid allegedly abused by her employer in Malaysia, police and a lawmaker said Thursday.
Indonesian authorities said the employment recruiters – an unidentified husband and wife – used forged documents to send 20-year-old victim Adelina Sau to Malaysia in 2015.
The woman’s mother said she disappeared from their village in impoverished East Nusa Tenggara province after her family rebuffed a recruiter’s job offer for their daughter.
The domestic helper died at a Malaysian hospital on Sunday, a day after being rescued by a migrant workers’ protection group, according to local reports.
Her head and face were swollen and she had raw wounds on her hand and legs, a police document and Malaysian lawmaker said.
“The doctors said the maid died of multiple organ failure,” said Steven Sim, a Malaysian politician from the Democratic Action Party.
“She was made to sleep in the car porch near a dog which was on a leash … It is a senseless loss of a life.”
The Indonesian recruiters were taken into custody Wednesday on trafficking charges, while another suspect is being pursued, police said.
A brother and sister, as well as their mother, who employed Adelina, have been arrested in Malaysia.
Some 2.5 million Indonesians work in neighbouring Malaysia, which is a magnet for migrant workers but salaries are low and employees are not protected by labour laws.
In recent years the country has seen a series of cases involving mistreatment of domestic workers including deaths.
In 2014, a Malaysian couple were sentenced to hang for starving their Indonesian maid to death.
The problem of helper abuse was highlighted the same year after photos of a Hong Kong-based Indonesian maid’s brutal injuries went viral. Her employer was later jailed.
Adelina’s body was scheduled to arrive in the provincial capital Kupang Thursday evening.
Her mother, Yohana Banunaek, said a man she did not identify had come to their remote village about seven hours’ drive from Kupang offering her daughter a job in Malaysia, but they refused.
“The man came again with all this fake paperwork and the next day we could not find Adelina. We believe she had gone with the man,” Banunaek told AFP.
The mother said the falsified documents made it appear that Adelina was about six years older than she was.
“We urge Malaysia to bring justice to Adelina and for the perpetrators to get heavy punishment,” said Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, an official at Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministry.
Official Indonesian figures showed some 62 migrant workers from East Nusa Tenggara died last year while working in Malaysia, mostly illegally.
Adelina was the eighth death this year, though most were from accidents or illness, according to the data.
“Such tragic cases keep repeating themselves,” said Migrant Care executive director Wahyu Susilo.