Domestic workers rescued from Malaysia
The Cambodian consul-general in Malaysia yesterday helped repatriate eight Cambodian domestic workers who were forced to work in grueling conditions in Malaysia.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry said yesterday that the Cambodian embassy in Kuala Lumpur intervened to help the eight women who had disputes with their employers and were subject to laborious work conditions.
All employers were made to pay the domestic workers their outstanding salaries before they were brought back to Cambodia. Six of the eight women arrived over the weekend while the remaining two are due back today.
The victims hailed from Kratie, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces.
Incidents of abuse and overwork are common for Cambodian domestic workers going to Malaysia. Many have recounted instances of 18-hour work days for seven days a week, months at a time without respite.
These domestic workers are often also not paid on a monthly basis and have their passports confiscated by employers to restrict their freedom of movement and stop them from running away.
In 2011, Cambodia banned sending domestic workers to Malaysia after reports of severe abuse, and even several cases resulting in death, emerged from the country.
However, the ban was lifted four years later after both nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
While the 2015 MoU between Cambodia and Malaysia stipulates that domestic workers be paid a fair wage, given days off and provided decent accommodation, enforcement is lax and is not helped by the fact that the MoU is not legally binding.
This means that while Malaysian employers are encouraged to abide by those terms, they are not bound by them.
According to the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry, 272 migrant workers in Malaysia were repatriated in 2016, four times more than the 58 in 2015. In 2014, only 34 were sent back to Cambodia.
The main reasons for the repatriations, the ministry said, was human trafficking, overwork and abuse.
The Malaysian government has since assured human rights groups and migrant workers that it will implement a new legislation to ensure stricter rights protection.
However, government officials both in Cambodia and Malaysia were unsure when the legislation would come into play.
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