Treating domestic workers as equal human beings is not only required by law, it is humane.
From January last year to September this year, Tenaganita handled close to 200 cases of domestic worker abuse incidents. Based on these cases, the top five violations faced by the workers were: withholding of passport by employer (100% of cases), no contract signed between worker and employer (100%), no paid day off (100%), unpaid wages (76%) and physical abuse (60%).
Other violations included overwork, insufficient food or deprivation of food, doing double jobs (at home and at the employer’s business), poor living conditions, and sexual assault or rape. Each case typically involved a combination of seven or eight different violations.
Many employers do not realise that under the Anti-Trafficking In Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, abusers can be fined up to RM1mil or imprisoned up to 20 years.
"We need to recognise that domestic workers are workers, and they have rights," stressed Tenaganita programme director Glorene A. Das.