A Hong Kong woman will be spending six years in jail for torturing an Indonesian maid who she forced to work for no pay and live in a closet for most of 2013.
The woman, 44-year-old Law Wan-tung, was arrested on January 20, 2014 by Hong Kong police after allegations of torturing 23-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a woman she had employed as a domestic servant.
The BBC reported at the time of the arrest that Erwiana was in the hospital suffering from injuries incurred during months of abuse at her former employer’s hand.
Law’s arrest came about after another, separate complaint by a different woman who had also worked for her. The abuse inspired thousands of people to rally and demand that Law be brought to justice for her behavior.
Erwiana was reportedly in critical condition from beatings when she finally managed to escape the woman’s home and seek refuge with the Indonesian consulate in Hong Kong. She could barely walk when she arrived back home in Indonesia the week before the arrest.
According the NY Times, Erwiana lived in the closet of Law Wan-tung’s apartment for eight months and was subjected to hideous abuse – including beatings that broke her teeth and left her bruised and battered. Erwiana testified at trial that she had been forced to spend long hours working, allowed very little sleep, and fed only rice and bread. She was not allowed to urinate in the toilet and was forced to use a plastic bag or a bucket for bodily functions.
The Inquisitr reported Erwiana also testified that she was tortured with the vacuum cleaner tube, which Law forced into her mouth and twisted to cause lacerations.
To make matters worse, Erwiana was never paid for her labor.
Judge Amanda Woodcock told Law that her behavior was “contemptible,” and she showed no compassion to domestic staff, treating them as if they were beneath her.
“It is regrettable that this conduct is not rare and sadly is often dealt with in the criminal courts,” Woodcock said.
The Hong Kong woman was sentenced to six years in prison and fined less than $2000 for her actions. Although she was happy her abuser received some form of justice, Erwiana said she was disappointed her former employer got away with such a light punishment.
“I’m still not satisfied with six years’ imprisonment, because of what she has done to me, and to my fellow domestic workers,” she said. “Giving her the guilty verdict is one thing, but giving her this light sentence is another. This sentencing may send a wrong signal to employers who mistreat or violate the rights of their domestic workers.”
API reports that the Hong Kong and Indonesian authorities will be launching an investigation into employment agencies that place domestic workers into homes and charge them huge fees for the service, which are then deducted from their pay.
The Hong Kong government issued a statement in favor of the verdict, saying that it sent a “clear signal…that society will not accept abuse of foreign domestic helpers.”
[Image via NY Daily News]