Four women who were working illegally as maids in Malaysia were returned to Cambodia Wednesday, following their escape from abusive conditions and detention.
In an interview with VOA Khmer, Oul Srey Khuoch, 32, said she and three other women were promised well-paid jobs, up to $600 per month, by a company called 168 Manpower Supply, when they left for Malaysia in 2014.
They ended up having to avoid the authorities after their travel documents expired and were kept working long hours at the homes that hired them. In the end, she said, she was eating one meal per day, being beaten by her employer, and working from 6 am to 11 pm.
“They beat me on my head,” she said. “They pulled my head to the floor. They pulled my hair. I could not bear it anymore. We decided to run so the police would arrest us. When they arrested us, they mistreated us, but later on they pitied us, since we did not do anything wrong except that we did not have passports.”
She would like to see companies that facilitate this kind of abuse shut down by authorities.
Duch Sotharith, director of 168 Manpower Supply, denied that his company sent these women to Malaysia and said they have said as much to police.
Rights workers say women are brokered into unsafe environments in Malaysia and other countries by companies registered and operating in Cambodia.
Chhan Sokunthea, head of the women and children section at the rights group Adhoc, said hundreds of workers are being exploited this way. Poor laws and poor law enforcement are partly to blame for the problem, she said.
Chiv Phally, deputy direct of the counter-trafficking division in the Ministry of Interior, said authorities are now questioning the women to learn more. “Until we finish questioning them, I can’t tell you who was involved in the case,” he said.