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Indonesia, Malaysia close to maid deal

INDONESIA may soon lift a ban on supplying maids to Malaysia after receiving promises of tougher steps to curb the mistreatment of domestic workers, an Indonesian official said yesterday.

The Indonesian government announced last month it would stop sending maids to its neighbor until stronger protection was implemented to safeguard them.

At least 300,000 Indonesian women work as maids in more prosperous Malaysia, more than from any other country.

Indonesian Manpower Minister Erman Suparno said after meeting Malaysian officials yesterday that both sides would discuss stronger measures over the next few weeks to punish employers who physically abuse their maids and to increase their wages and days off.

"We are very confident and very happy because (the Malaysian side) is very responsive to improve the quality and protection for the domestic workers," Suparno told reporters.

Malaysia recruited about 4,000 Indonesian maids each month before the ban. Hundreds of maids file complaints annually alleging abuse overwork and unpaid salaries.

In the most recent abuse case, a 25-year-old Indonesian claimed she was beaten and punched by her employer and had not been paid for two years. She was rescued with bruises and scars after a neighbor called the police. The case is under investigation.

Last month, a Malaysian woman was charged with scalding her 33-year-old Indonesian maid with hot water and injuring her with scissors and a hammer.

The employer faces up to 20 years in jail and a fine or whipping if convicted.


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