Protection of domestic workers
Indonesia’s abused domestic worker to seek justice
For more than seven years, Marni Siti* (name has been changed), 22 years old, was kept as prisoner in the home of her employer, a mother of four, Mala Husin* (name has been changed) who regularly violently abused and deprived her of food, sleep and payment for long hours of grueling work.
Marni started to work in her employer’s home in 2007 when she was only 12 years old. She left her family and her seven siblings in Bogor, West Java, and went to Jakarta assuming that she was invited for a vacation. “I was having a school break at that time preparing to continue my study at the Islamic school. My uncle came to my house with my employer inviting me to go to Jakarta for a vacation,” she recalled.
Mala threatened me that the police would arrest me and I would be imprisoned if I went home. I was scared and I stayed."
Upon Marni’s arrival in Jakarta, Mala promised her that she would treat Marni like her own daughter and she would be sent to school. “Mala even asked me to call her Mama and I should consider her four children like my own brothers and sisters. Mala also said that her house was also my house,” she continued.
However, after a few months, instead of going to school, she ended up doing the house works. When she insisted to go back home, she was taken to the police station. “Mala threatened me that the police would arrest me and I would be imprisoned if I went home. I was scared and I stayed,” Marni said.
For the first two years, Mala would take Marni going back to Bogor to meet her family. Yet, Mala repeated threats to put Marni’s father in jail if she decided not to go back and told her parents. Frightened, Marni continued working as domestic worker.
I just ran and ran with people watching me in disbelief. People were afraid of helping me due to my condition. I ran to the police station. I told the police that I was afraid that I would be put in jail, and the police said that I had nothing to worry about as it should be my employers who be put in jail."
The abuse was not only done by Mala, but also by her husband and children. Marni said that the children also joined their mother beating and abusing her instead of rescuing her. Unable to bear the inhuman treatment, Marni attempted to commit suicide three times but failed.
Finally, on Tuesday, 13 February 2016, after being beaten and abused for hours, she decided to flee from the house. She jumped from the third floor using the cable of the antenna and climbed over the 2-metre front gate despite painful bruises and swelling on her body.
I hope that my abusive employer and her families will be punished and sentenced for what they did to me. The abuse left me with injuries and trauma but I just want to continue my life and reach my dreams."
The police immediately raided Mala’s house but Mala had already fled from the house. She surrendered the next day to the police. Meanwhile, Marni had been taken to the police hospital for treatment and have undergone a trauma healing programme. The case is now on trial with Marni is still in recovery process from severe mental and physical pain because of her employer’s abuse.
“I hope that my abusive employer and her families will be punished and sentenced for what they did to me. The abuse left me with injuries and trauma but I just want to continue my life and reach my dreams,” she said. In between trials, Marni is now preparing herself to continue her study, taking educational package.