‘Tortured’ Indonesian maid welcomes arrest

An Indonesian maid has welcomed the arrest of her former Hong Kong employer, who is accused of torturing her, saying she is willing to return to the city to testify in a case that sparked angry protests.

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The ex-employer, a Hong Kong mother-of-two, was arrested on Monday and charged two days later with assaulting Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and two other Indonesian maids, after thousands of domestic workers marched in the city to call for justice.

“I’m happy. I had hoped the employer would be arrested,” 23-year-old Sulistyaningsih told Hong Kong-based Cable Television in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

Law Wan-tung, 44, is accused of causing grievous bodily harm to Sulistyaningsih, who is now undergoing hospital treatment in her home country.

Law, who was arrested at Hong Kong airport while attempting to board a flight to Thailand, was also charged with common assault and four counts of criminal intimidation – charges related either to Sulistyaningsih or to her two previous Indonesian domestic helpers.

Prosecutors allege that Law turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against Sulistyaningsih.

“If I get better, I will go back to Hong Kong,” Sulistyaningsih told Cable TV from her hospital bed, adding she was unaware her former employer had allegedly abused two other maids.

The Hong Kong broadcaster said she would return to the city to testify in the case but her father has previously said he would not let his daughter return to work overseas.

“Looking at how bad the conditions are working abroad, who would?” Rohmat Saputro said.

While Sulistyaningsih’s situation has improved and is now able to sit up, she remains bedridden and still suffers from headaches and dizziness, according to media reports.

One of her doctors in Indonesia said she was unable to walk following the mistreatment, which included having her head smashed repeatedly against a wall.

Amnesty International in November condemned the “slavery-like” conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong and accused authorities of “inexcusable” inaction.

Elsewhere in Hong Kong, a domestic helper died on Thursday after falling from a residential building.

Police said the 28-year-old helper, whose name and nationality were not given, fell from a building in the Wong Tai Sin district onto a concrete canopy and was certified dead when officers arrived.

“It is understood that she fell off while cleaning windows in a flat,” a police statement said, adding the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Last August, an 18-month-old boy and an Indonesian domestic helper fell to their deaths from the 19th-floor flat where they lived.

Police said the helper was collecting clothes from a drying rack outside the window.

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