Rights group warns Cambodia to stop supplying domestic maids

A Malaysian workers' rights group has urged Cambodia to stop supplying housemaids to Malaysia, claiming many are abused and made to work like slaves because of inadequate protection.

Malaysia has recruited thousands of Cambodian women since Indonesia barred its domestic workers from coming to Malaysia in 2009 following a string of assaults by employers. Officials estimate there are more than 50,000 Cambodian maids in Malaysia.

A Cambodian maid was found dead in Malaysia last month under mysterious circumstances, while another was rescued by police after she was allegedly abused and had her head shaved by her employer.

Irene Fernandez, a director of the rights group Tenaganita, said her organisation had helped 41 Cambodian maids, some as young as 15, after they were rescued or ran away from their employers in the past six months because of abuse or unpaid wages.

"Today, another nation of domestic workers goes through the same experiences of torture, control and denial of rights," Ms Fernandez said.

Tenaganita urged Cambodia to ban maids from coming to Malaysia until tougher laws were enacted.

Malaysia is among South-east Asia's top importers of foreign labour. Many households rely on maids to cook, clean and look after children and the elderly.

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