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Employer accused of taking to worker’s finger with knife

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : A 28-year-old Indonesian domestic worker, Anis Adriani, told the Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee that her employer grabbed her hand and dragged her to the kitchen bench, where she pressed her hand onto a cutting board and attacked her finger with a kitchen knife.

She said that the incident occurred on the morning of February 24 and staff from her recruitment agency arranged for her to be taken to Queen Mary Hospital by ambulance.

A February 28 press release from the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said that Adriani gave an account of the incident from her hospital bed, saying that after her male employer and 17-year-old ward had left the house, her female employer was still sleeping.

However, the family dog started to bark loudly and Adriani said that although she tried to calm it, the sleeping woman was eventually awoken.

The woman then stormed out of the bedroom and said something that Adriani could not understand, before attacking her ring finger with a sharp knife.

Adriani, who arrived in Hong Kong on February 17 this year, began work with the three-member family in Western District two days later.

Although she speaks little English or Cantonese, Adriani appeared at a press conference at the offices of Amnesty International on March 6 with her repaired finger heavily bandaged.

Eni Lestari, from the migrants coordinating body, said that the latest incidents of violence committed against domestic workers show that violence towards them in Hong Kong will continue as long as the government insists on rigidly sticking to its anti-migrant policies that promote what she termed modern-day slavery.

Adriani told the media that she had always supported Sulist-yaningsih and the demand for justice for other workers who have been victims of torture. She added that she will be seeking com-pensation from her employer.

Mabel Au Mei-po, the director of the Amnesty International Hong Kong Branch, said it is appalling that such violence can be inflicted upon a worker within a week of beginning a new job.

Consequently, she said that she seriously doubts the efficacy of the half-day seminar on workers’ rights proposed by the secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-cheung, to curb such violence.

Au pointed out that the treatment meted out to Adriani is by no means an isolated case.

She quoted the findings of a survey released by Amnesty Inter-national in November last year showing that two-thirds of Indonesian domestic workers interviewed had been subject to physical or psychological abuse.

She pointed to the much debated law requiring migrant domestic workers to live in their employer’s home as promoting further isolation, which places them at a higher degree of risk of being abused.

Au said that Amnesty had been requesting a meeting with the secretary for Labour and Welfare to discuss the problems faced by migrants—like overcharging, the two-weeks-and-you-are-out rule and the mandatory live-in arrangement.

However, she said that to date there had been no response from Cheung’s office.

Eman Villanueva, who is also part of the Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee, said there are many things that Cheung could do if the government seriously and sincerely intended to prevent workers being tortured. 

He cited abolishing the mandatory live-in arrangement and the two-weeks-and-you-are-out rule as two prime examples.

He said that he does not agree with Cheung when he says that he can do nothing about overcharging by overseas agencies, as bilateral agreements can be reached with the labour-sending countries.

However, he added that he believes that Sulistyaningsih’s case has prompted more workers to speak up against torture and take steps to protect themselves, which can galvanise workers into pressuring the government to finally look at its policies.

Lestari told the gathering that representatives of the group had visited Sulistyaningsih in Java during the previous week.

She explained that she is recovering, but is still too weak to come to Hong Kong to give testimony.

Lestari explained that she is suffering from blood clots on the brain and that her nose was broken so she has an ongoing infection. 

Lestari added that Sulist-yaningsih still sees shadows and cannot hear properly. Her spine was broken as well, so she cannot stand or sit in one position for long.

All her injuries require medication, so she needs to sleep, because she gets tired easily.

Lestari added that she still smiles as she always did, but does not talk much with people, probably due to her trauma, which could well develop into a long term psychological problem.

 

Sulistyaningsih’s former emp-loyer is due to appear in a Hong Kong court on March 25.