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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Late last year, 21-year-old Cambodian domestic worker Nita (not her real name) was raped by her employer. It happened in her room in a single-storey house in one of Klang’s most remote districts, where her screams reached no one.
The assault left her deeply traumatised but Nita was too afraid to ask for help. She is an illegal alien in a foreign land who, like many before her, paid a hefty fee to unscrupulous hiring agents promising stable employment in the thriving city of Kuala Lumpur.
So Nita continued to work for her rapist and his family for a long tortuous year, doing laborious work for long hours and often fed with little food. On her rest days, she was prohibited from leaving the house.
“She was only allowed to eat vegetables as she watched the family members eat healthy meals,” said Irene Xavier, a labour activist with Sahabat Wanita, a Selangor-based migrant workers rights group who helped the Cambodian escape.
Fearing she would be violated again, Nita often trembled in her sleep. She hoped the nightmare would end but that dreaded moment came again when her rapist, drunk, asked her for sex and when she declined, Nita was made to strip naked and dance before him.
She wept and complied.
Nita’s story provides a window into the dire conditions of illegal workers in the informal economy, where harrowing stories of abuse by employers are rife and employment mirrors that of colonialism’s slave-labourers. They happen because rights and social protection are close to non-existent.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines the informal economy as “activities that are, in law or practice, not covered or insufficiently covered by formal arrangements”, which refers to working people largely excluded from regulations and protections in the standard employment system.
As a result, these labourers are left out from policy considerations because their employment often goes unregistered or are omitted from national statistics, placing them outside the reach of social protection or labour laws.
And because their employment status is ambiguous, it further reduces what limited protection they have under the law, more so for the thousands of migrant workers who came here without legal papers.
“Most of these cases go unreported because they can’t go to the police or to anyone as they are scared they would be detained,” Xavier said.
https://www.malaymail.com/s/1699319/dee ... se-torture
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For previous outfits, we often were carrying migrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and India to Malaya, and later from Chittagong Bangladesh to Oman (bengalis and Burmese).
The treatment meted out by the recruiters in Dhaka and Chittagong would be enough to put most westerners off. But the lure of lucrative work, salaries many times greater than could ever be expected back home frequently outweighed the potential horrific treatment that could be expected.
Many workers would return from such employments with a wealth of personal posssesions normally only seen by the middle classes, and relatively cash rich. All to often though, several workers would not return, and from what I was told there would only be word of mouth of their fate.
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