Teen maid re­turns af­ter abuse, no pay in Malaysia

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING news­room@mm­times.com

AN 18-year-old woman has re­turned home af­ter a brief stint work­ing in Malaysia as a maid for no money while suf­fer­ing phys­i­cal beat­ings, the Myan­mar em­bassy said.

Ma San Thida ar­rived at the em­bassy in Kuala Lumpur on Au­gust 28, ac­knowl­edg­ing that she had come to the coun­try il­le­gally two months prior us­ing an agency that had ar­ranged her em­ploy­ment as a maid. Af­ter she re­alised the harsh con­di­tions, she fled.

“I also wit­nessed many other girls in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion,” said Ma San Thida in a state­ment re­leased by the em­bassy.

The em­bassy do­nated K150,000 (US$125) to Ma San Thida and granted her the Cer­tifi­cate of Iden­tity she needed in or­der to re­turn to Myan­mar. The doc­u­men­ta­tion fees were paid for by donors.

Myan­mar’s over­seas em­bassies in Thai­land, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong and Tai­wan are at­tempt­ing to make lists of un­doc­u­mented maids like Ma San Thida with the help of the host coun­tries. The project be­gan six months ago, ac­cord­ing to De­part­ment of Mi­grant Af­fairs of­fi­cial U Thein Win, but ne­go­ti­a­tions with the coun­tries are still on­go­ing.

“There were many cases of abuse among maids who went abroad for work and that is why the gov­ern­ment stopped send­ing do­mes­tic work­ers over­seas in 2014,” said Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion (MOEAF) mi­grant af­fairs of­fi­cial Ko Myo Win Yin.

The de­cree did not stop women from find­ing ways to get abroad to take jobs, how­ever.

Most go to Sin­ga­pore, said Nay Pyi Taw Anti-Hu­man-Traf­fick­ing Po­lice of­fi­cer Ko Min Naing, and others go to Malaysia.

Jolo­van Wham, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Sin­ga­porean Hu­man­i­tar­ian Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion Economics (HOME), told The Myan­mar Times in June that the num­ber of Myan­mar maids in Sin­ga­pore grew an es­ti­mated 50 per­cent be­tween 2013 and 2015, with over 30,000 there now, which was ev­i­dence that the ban was not ef­fec­tive.

The ban has not only failed to stop women from Myan­mar go­ing abroad to work – it has also led to a black mar­ket that puts the women at greater risk of ex­ploita­tion and slav­ery, ac­cord­ing to HOME, which was set up to pro­tect mi­grant work­ers’ rights.

The MOEAF said in June that it has be­come harder for author­i­ties to po­lice the move­ment of do­mes­tic work­ers across Myan­mar’s bor­ders be­cause large em­ploy­ment agen­cies have been re­placed by in­di­vid­ual hu­man smug­glers, of­ten from within their vic­tims’ so­cial cir­cles.

“It is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to track the traf­fick­ing of girls from Chin and Kayin states be­cause their church is of­ten in­volved,” said U Win Tun, vice chair of the MOEAF.

There were 130 of­fi­cial cases of hu­man traf­fick­ing in Myan­mar last year, with a to­tal of 641 vic­tims. Chin State was the only re­gion of Myan­mar not to have recorded any of­fi­cial cases.

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