09/20/2013, 00.00
HONG KONG
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In Hong Kong, tortured maid "has forgiven her tormentors"

A Hong Kong couple that abused a young Indonesian for two years gets three to five years in prison. The court dismisses some allegations as "unproven", but the weight of the evidence is enough for a conviction. Migrant rights groups pleads, "We are human beings, not animals."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Kartika Puspitasari, a housemaid from Indonesia, "has already forgiven" the couple from Hong Kong who tortured her for two years at their home in Tai Po District.

District Court Judge So Wai-tak sentenced Tai Chi-wai and his wife Catherine Au Yuk-shan to 39 and 66 months in prison respectively.

The two were convicted for abusing the Indonesian woman at their home, but the judge ruled that some of the latter's allegations were "unproven".

Puspitasari had filed a complaint against her employers for unpaid wages. During the first hearing, however, evidence indicated that the couple (with three children aged 3 to 11 years) had also tortured the domestic worker almost daily.

The housemaid's body showed 45 visible scars. According to court-appointed expert, the marks dated back to "a few weeks before the [medical] visit."

Puspitasari was, among other things, beaten with a bicycle chain, burnt, slapped around and denied food and water for five days when the family was on a holiday.

The judge did not accept all of the woman's claims though, ruling out sexual violence or gender-based humiliations.

However, the victim stood by her entire story at a press conference held at the Indonesian consulate, saying that "she had forgiven her former employers but had said the truth. Now she would like to forget everything."

The case highlights the plight of foreign workers in Hong Kong, most of whom come from the Philippines and Indonesia to work as domestic help or in janitorial services.

Their life is often very complicated as they juggle low wages, hard-to-find housing, inability to obtain citizenship and a veiled racist hostility.

For My Sumiati, who heads Migrant Komunitas Indonesia, this case can send an important message. "Migrants are human beings. If their work is unsatisfactory, just send them away. It serves no purpose to treat them like animals."

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