About one year ago on February 10 (2018), 21-year-old Adelina Lisao, who was working as a domestic helper was rescued from captivity in her employer’s home. Neighbours reported that the maid was forced to sleep outdoors on the porch for a month, sharing the space with her employer’s dog and brutally tortured to death.
Yohana Banunaek, the mother of Adelina, has gone public with her cry for justice, reported The Star. The case shook the country but a year later, there has not been much progress on the lawsuit.
“I have been missing my child for a year,” Yohana said to reporters on Tuesday (12 Feb 2019), in an interview through Skype from Indonesia’s eastern city of Kupang. “She died not because of her sickness but because she was tortured,” she continued, attending a special memorial held to mark Adelina’s first death anniversary.
When rescuers arrived to save Adelina, the terrified woman could only shake her head at them. They eventually extracted her and found severe injuries on her swollen face and head with pus leaking from the infected burn marks on her arms and legs. The next day, Adelina died on the medical bed at the Seberang Jaya Hospital from multiple organ failure, The Star reported.
The abusive employer, 59-year-old S. Ambika and her 32-year-old daughter R. Jayavartiny were arrested later that month and were charged by the magistrate’s court. The mother was charged for murder. Meanwhile, the daughter was charged for hiring Adelina knowing she didn’t have a valid work permit, thus restricting her access to any rights and enabling the abuse.
They also found that Adelina hadn’t been paid for three years.
While the perpetrators have been caught and charged, the case has stalled, seemingly forgotten in Malaysia’s courts.
It would seem that Adelina’s case is not the only one, as executive director of migrant rights group Tenaganita, Glorene Das, has also weighed in on the issue.
Glorene, who has been pushing for specific laws to protect domestic workers, has stated, “A year later there is still no justice. This is not an isolated case. We have a number of cases filed in court for unpaid wages, wrongful dismissal and deductions … but these cases just stay there.”
With almost two million migrant workers, Malaysia is plagued by cases of human trafficking. In fact, Indonesia and Cambodia, our two main sources of migrant workers have temporarily blacklisted Malaysia, banning their citizens from working here after cases of such abuse have surfaced.
If Ambika is found guilty for murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, she will face a mandatory death sentence upon conviction.
We really hope that justice will be done for Adelina and her family for this horrific ordeal. Do you think we need more laws to protect maids? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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