Hong Kong (AFP) – An Indonesian maid has welcomed the arrest of her former Hong Kong employer accused of torturing her, saying she was willing to return to the city to testify in the case that sparked angry protests.
The ex-employer, a Hong Kong mother-of-two was arrested on Monday and charged two days later with assaulting Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and two other Indonesian maids, after thousands of domestic workers marched in the city to call for justice.
“I’m happy. I had hoped the employer would be arrested,” 23-year-old Sulistyaningsih told Hong Kong-based Cable Television in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
Law Wan-tung, 44, is accused of causing grievous bodily harm to Sulistyaningsih, who is now undergoing hospital treatment in her home country.
Law, who was arrested at Hong Kong airport while attempting to board a flight to Thailand, was also charged with common assault and four counts of criminal intimidation — charges related either to Sulistyaningsih or to her two previous Indonesian domestic helpers.
Prosecutors allege that Law turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against Sulistyaningsih.
“If I get better, I will go back to Hong Kong,” Sulistyaningsih told Cable TV from her hospital bed, adding she was unaware her former employer had allegedly abused two other maids.
The Hong Kong broadcaster said she would return to the city to testify in the case but her father has previously said he would not let his daughter return to work overseas.
“Looking at how bad the conditions are working abroad, who would?” Rohmat Saputro said.
While Sulistyaningsih’s situation has improved and is now able to sit up, she remains bedridden and still suffers from headaches and dizziness, according to media reports.
One of her doctors in Indonesia told AFP Tuesday she was unable to walk following the mistreatment, which included having her head smashed repeatedly against a wall.
She left Hong Kong this month after allegedly being abused for eight months.
Her story has sparked international concern over the rights of domestic helpers in the city, with thousands marching on Sunday to demand justice for abused maids.
The Asian financial hub is home to nearly 300,000 maids, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, and criticism from rights groups over their treatment is growing.
In September a Hong Kong couple were jailed for savagely beating their Indonesian domestic helper, including burning her with an iron and hitting her with a bicycle chain.
Amnesty International in November condemned the “slavery-like” conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong and accused authorities of “inexcusable” inaction.