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最近一则加影的新闻,3名印尼女佣指控遭到一名拥有“丹斯里”封衔的雇主虐待而逃跑,让我忆起多年前的经历。

几年前,一家提供钟点女佣服务公司,介绍一名再米拉的女佣给我,负责家里的打扫工作,并照顾了我生病的母亲。她每周会来两次打扫,我们很满意她的工作以及她对我已故妈妈的照料,因此我们致电该公司安排钟点女佣时,总是会要求派再米拉来。

但再米拉情况有些不对劲。她很瘦,有时看起来很虚弱,甚至拿不起鸡毛扫。当我们提供她食物时,她会一边看著门一边吃。有时她的吃相,像似她那几天内的第一顿正餐。但是,当我们给她一些小费时,她会拒绝接受。就像我们提供一些食物给她带回宿舍和其他女佣享用一样,她也会礼貌地拒绝。

当到了雇主来接她的时间,尽管我们坚持让她在屋内等,但她却宁愿在炎热的太阳下,坐在路边等候。她回答说,当她的雇主过来时,如果没看到她,雇主会焦躁不安。

反抗就被掌掴

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有一天,当她在做家务时弄伤了,我们致电她的雇主,其雇主明确告诉我们,必须等他到来,不能私自带她去诊所。当再米拉被雇主粗暴拖进汽车时,足以告诉我们有些事情不对了。

基于再米拉在我们家工作时受伤,我们之后致电雇主了解她的情况,雇主的反应很草率。几周后,当她回到工作岗位,我们让她坐下来,向她了解在雇主家处境,以及她在马来西亚工作情况。

在多番鼓励下,她痛哭起来,并告诉我们整个故事:一年前,她与一群十几个女孩,在一名代理人安排下,从棉兰乘渡轮到巴生港口。当时,他们被告知,一抵达巴生港口,他们的工作准证会准备好。

然而,抵达后,他们被带到一辆货车,送到巴生的一所房子,在那里他们被指示交出护照和手机。那些反抗并提问的人则被掌掴。一对夫妻作为他们“监护人”,并安排她们每天工作16小时,打扫房屋、办公室甚至工厂。当他们完成当天的工作时,可能已接近午夜,但疲惫不堪的她们必须在第二天早上5点醒来,开始新的一天工作。

询及,膳食情况?“在我们前往工作途中,就在货车上吃面包或饼干。”

她们也没有休息日,有一次,当他们的雇主去度假时,她们就被关在房子里5天。

移民局突击检查

“但我们并不介意,因为我们最终可以睡觉并吃我们自己煮的营养食物。”

她们经常因为动作太慢或者身上有钱而被雇主殴打。她们也被警告不要逃跑,因为雇主的父亲是一名“拿督”并有警方撑腰。一名曾在德士司机帮助下逃跑的女子,之后遭到警方拘留,并被送回巴生雇主处遭到痛打。她说,那些有姐妹或亲属关系的女子,会被分开安置。

我了解后,致电咨询当时移民局总监拿督斯里慕斯达法阿里。他立即派出调查员到我家与再米拉面谈,并证实她说实话。在三个月的时间里,移民局的反人口贩卖小组对再米拉雇主两所房屋及公司进行监控,并发现该公司没有注册。

然后有一天,移民局官员在午夜过后突击检查那两幢房子。这些女子被救出并送到该部门的安全屋,而雇主则被拘留并在扣留所度过了三个晚上。之后,雇主夫妻两人被罚款,并被命令向雇用的女子支付赔偿金,目前他们对所判处的监禁惩罚进行上诉。

该案件中获救的女子,许多都返回印尼,但也有一些如再米拉般,获得大马人雇主直接雇用而决定留下来。在有爱心的雇主家,再米拉过著美好的生活,并被视为他们家庭的一份子,雇主每年都在开斋节时送她回家。

移工死亡人数最多

马来西亚是移工死亡人数最多的国家之一,根据移工关怀组织,在我国每天有一名尼泊尔工人死亡。尤其是虐待女佣,已到了泛滥可耻的程度,在过去3年里,就有120多人死亡。这些死亡事件促使印尼政府发出警告,要暂停派遣印尼人到我国工作,直到问题获得纠正。我国共有25万名注册家庭佣工或女佣,至于非法人数更无法预测。

为免受不良女佣代理欺骗和女佣逃跑处境,当局制定了维护雇主利益的措施──如今可以直接雇用女佣,但也必须确保这些女佣的福利受到保护。谨记,女佣是最脆弱的群体之一,因为受制于雇主和原本应保护他们的政府之摆布。

例如,马来西亚女佣雇主协会(Mama)等组织,在这个行业中扮演的角色,不应该只是照顾一方的利益。反对虐待女佣并确保雇主遵守女佣的基本权利,是符合每个人的最大利益,特别对于我国的经济发展,是占满了移工的血汗和泪水。

《外劳权益仍然不受关注》(Migrant protection still not a priority)原文:

A recent news report from Kajang where three Indonesian maids fled their employer, a “Tan Sri”, for allegedly abusing them struck a chord with me.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to Jamilah, an employee of a daily maid service agency, who cleaned our home and attended to my ailing mother.

She would come twice a week to do the usual stuff that a domestic helper would do. We were happy with her work and how she cared for my now late mum and would always request for Jamilah when we called the agency.

But something was off about Jamilah. She was thin and on some days, seemed too weak to even hold a feather duster.
When we offered food, she would eat while glancing at the door. At times she ate like it was the first time she has seen a proper meal in days.

But when we offered her pocket money she would refuse to accept. The same with any food we wanted her to take back to her quarters for her and the other maids whom she lived with – she would politely decline.

When it was time for her to be picked up by her employer, she would rather sit on the kerb in the hot sun waiting for him, than wait inside the house, despite our insistence. She responded that her employer gets agitated when she does not appear right at the moment when he pulls over.

One day when she injured herself while doing her chores, we called her employer who told us in no uncertain terms that we must wait for him and not take her to the clinic ourselves.

The way she was dragged into the car – roughly by the arm – was enough to tell us that something was not right.
When we called the employer to check on her as we felt responsible since she fell in our home, the response was curt.

A few weeks later when she returned to work, we sat her down and demanded to know what was going on at her employer’s house and the circumstances of her employment in Malaysia.

After much encouragement she broke down and told us the entire story: That she is a group of a dozen girls who were brought to Port Klang via ferry by an agent in Medan one year ago. They were told their work permits would be ready for them as they arrived in Port Klang.

Instead upon arrival, they were ushered into a van and taken to a house in Klang where they were told to surrender their passports and cell phones. Those who protested and asked questions were slapped.

The husband-and-wife duo who were to be their “guardians” made them work up to 16 hours a day, cleaning homes, offices and even factories.

By the time they were done for the day, it could be close to midnight, but the exhausted women would have to wake up at 5am for a new day of work.

What about meals? “We eat what we can like bread or biscuits in the van on the way to our jobs.”
There is no day off and on one occasion they were locked in the house for five days as their employers went on a vacation.

“But we didn’t mind, as we could finally sleep and eat nutritious food that we cooked ourselves.”
They were regularly beaten by being too slow or if they had money on them.

They were also warned against escaping as the employer’s father was a “Datuk” who worked with the police.
One girl who escaped with the help of a taxi driver was promptly detained by the police and sent back to Klang where she “received the beating of her life”.

She said the girls who were related to each other such as sisters or cousins were also separated from each other.
I called Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, who was then the Director General of Immigration for advice.

He promptly sent his investigators to our house to interview Jamaliah, and established she was telling the truth.
Over a course of three months the Immigration Department’s Anti Human Trafficking Unit monitored the two houses and the daily activities of the agency – which it was discovered, was not even a registered business.

Then one day, the Immigration officers swooped down on both houses just after midnight.

The women were rescued and sent to the department’s safe house while the employers were detained and spent three nights in the lockup.

Fast forward, the duo have been fined and ordered to pay restitution to the girls and are now appealing their jail sentences.

Many of the girls have sought to return home, while others like Jamaliah had decided to stay on with sponsors – Malaysians who employ them directly. She is having a good life with caring employers who have made her part of their family and send her home for Hari Raya every year.

Malaysia has one of the highest deaths of migrant workers, with according to Migrant Care, one Nepali worker dies every day.

Maid abuse is especially a disgraceful epidemic here, with over 120 deaths in the last three years. These deaths have prompted a warning form the Indonesian Government for a moratorium on sending Indonesians to work here until the scourge is checked.

There are 250,000 registered domestic helpers or maids in Malaysia. The number of illegal ones is anyone’s guess.
And while steps have been taken to protect employers’ rights against unscrupulous agencies and runaway maids – where now direct employment is possible – one must also not fail to see to it that the welfare of these women are also protected. Remember, they are among the most vulnerable groups as they are at the mercy of the people who employ them and the Government that is supposed to protect them.

Organisations such as the Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association (Mama) for instance should not be one dimensional when it comes to their role in this industry.

Speaking out against maid abuse and ensuring employers observe basic rights of the person is in everyone’s best interests, especially for a country whose economic development is stained by the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers.

Terence Fernandez

资深媒体人,曾在多家英文媒体任职,以调查报导获奖无数。

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