HONGKONG – An Indonesian maid in Hong Kong who won her case against the abusive former employer who beat, starved and kept her prisoner, said she is willing to help abused migrant workers who are experiencing the same torture she had been, as reported by Interaksyon.
24-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih from Indonesia, became a hero for many of her peers, as her case gave a spotlight on the a***e of migrant workers who often suffered behind closed doors.
Last Friday, Sulistyaningsih’s 44-year-old employer, Law Wan-tung, was sentenced to six years in prison on 18 charges including grievous bodily harm, assault, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages in a case. The ruling of the court had made headlines around the world.
“I still want to help my fellow migrant workers who are abused and neglected by my own government,” Sulistyaningsih told AFP, showing her intent to support her fellow worker.
“If there’s an opportunity, I would like to create a foundation to help with these issues and to educate the Indonesian community so that they can understand our basic problems outside the country and back in Indonesia,” she added.
Sulistyaningsih comes from a poor family in east Java who mainly survive out of farming; the reason she, as well as her brother, weren’t able to attend any university. Immediately after graduating from high school, Sulistyaningsih worked as a waitress.
As she was determined to save up money so that she could enroll for college and help support her family financially, she moved to Hong Kong in 2013 and worked as a domestic helper.
At present, Hong Kong serves as a second home to nearly 300,000 domestic helpers, which mainly comes from Indonesia and the Philippines.
“The government should provide accessible education especially for poor people, as well as helping to create decent jobs for decent pay, not just profit for investors,” said Sulistyaningsih; sharing her story which highlights Indonesia’s prevalent problems, like lack of job opportunities and an unaffordable further education system.
In line with her case, Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, a Hong Kong-based campaign group, is planning to file an official complaint to the legislature about domestic workers’ conditions. The complaint aims to force a reform debate in the city’s de facto parliament.
As for Sulistyaningsih, she is optimistic to resume her studies in economics at the Catholic Private University in central Java. The brave worker was offered a four-year scholarship after the establishment’s owner read about her case.
Despite the time that passed after she was abused, the impact of the ordeal she experienced still haunts her.
“I hate the sound of loud voices. I still feel the trauma,” she said, as evidence of the past a***e like chipped teeth, damaged nose and scarred feet are still visible.
“I feel very happy and relieved (after the verdict and sentencing) but in the back of my mind I think: ‘If migrant workers are still being treated the same, what’s it all for? I will continue to fight with the government if they do not want to protect their workers,” she added.