Malaysian couple to be hanged for starving maid
March 8, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
KUALA LUMPUR -- A Malaysian couple was sentenced to hang for starving their Indonesian maid to death, a defense lawyer said Friday, in the latest shocking case to spotlight abuse of domestic helpers in the region.
Isti Komariyah weighed just 26 kilograms (57 pounds) on her death in Kuala Lumpur in June 2011 from what a court ruled was deliberate starvation, according to Malaysian media reports on the ruling issued Thursday.
"She was 26 and weighed barely 26 kilograms when she was taken to the University Malaya Medical Center with bruises and scratch marks on her back, arms and forehead," The Star newspaper reported.
Fong Kong Meng, 58, and his wife Teoh Ching Yen, 56, consistently withheld food from Isti during the three years she worked for them, the court found.
Isti had weighed 46 kilograms when she first started working for the couple.
Defense counsel Ramkarpal Singh confirmed the sentence to AFP. He said his clients would appeal against the decision on Monday.
The case is the latest to underline growing concern over the vulnerability of millions of Indonesian, Philippine, Cambodian and other domestic workers to abuse by their employers around Asia and the Middle East.
Rights groups say countless maids work behind closed doors without adequate legal and labor protections, and shocking cases of beatings, maimings and deaths have emerged over the years.
Hong Kong vowed last week to strengthen legal oversight over maid employment after gruesome images surfaced of injuries sustained by 22-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih of Indonesia, who has been left unable to walk.
Thousands of domestic helpers took to the streets of Hong Kong in protest in January, demanding justice over the case. Her employer has been arrested and charged with assault.