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Back From Malaysia, Maid Says She Was Not Raped

Gelia, a maid works in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, June 17, 2009. At least two women have died in the custody of recruitment firms prior to scheduled departures for Malaysia.

A domestic worker who found herself at the center of a rape controversy while in Malaysia this month returned to Cambodia this week, claiming she had not been sexually assaulted as previously claimed.

Ouk Seng, 27, said in a press conference organized by Cambodian police Thursday that allegations she was raped by her Malaysian employer were “a lie” in an attempt to come back home.

“No one raped me,” she told reporters. “It was not true.”

Ouk Seng’s mother, Srey Sophal, told reporters earlier this month that her daughter had called alleging sexual abuse by her employer on two occasions, after she was brokered a job by the recruitment company Champa Man Power.

Srey Sophal later recanted the accusation.

Ouk Seng said Thursday she had made up the allegations because she wanted to return home to her children.

The allegations came amid increased concern that Cambodia is exporting a high number of maids to Malaysia, which has a poor track record in the treatment of migrant domestic workers, with little oversight or protection.

Indonesia banned the export of its own citizens for such work in Malaysia, after numerous reports of abuse. Other former maids have told VOA Khmer they were sexually abused in Malaysia, even as recruitment firms have flourished.

At least two women have died in the custody of recruitment firms prior to scheduled departures for Malaysia.

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party who originally helped bring the mother’s allegations to light, said by phone from the US Thursday that Ouk Seng was now “under pressure” to recant. Mu Sochua said she would continue to investigate the case.

Am Sam Ath, chief investigator for the rights group Licadho, said Thursday it was “strange” for the woman to go back on her original allegations.

“If there was no rape, or nothing happened, why has she been returned?” he said.

Cheav Phally, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s counter-trafficking division, said police would conitnue to monitor the case.

Bun Hak, a representative of Champa Man Power, said the company would sue the women if they made any more claims of “untruth.”