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Hong Kong police question maid abuse victim

January 21, 2014

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Hong Kong police interviewed and took DNA samples on Tuesday from an Indonesian maid allegedly tortured by her Hong Kong employer, seeking evidence in a case that has refocused attention on the vulnerabilities of foreign domestic staff working in Asia and the Middle East.

Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made his first public statement on the alleged abuse, which has triggered protests and much media attention in Hong Kong but not as much in Indonesia. Cases of maid abuse are common, and the government has been responding to nationwide floods and an erupting volcano.

“I am angry at the perpetrators of this act and want justice to be done, and I think Hong Kong knows this,” Yudhoyono said in a telephone call to the father of the victim, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

Reporters were allowed in the room while the telephone call was made.

The case came to light last week after photos circulated among Indonesians in Hong Kong of Sulistyaningsih’s injuries, showing her face, hands and legs covered with scabs and lacerations, and blackened skin around her feet.

On Monday, Hong Kong police arrested a 44-year-old woman identified as Law Wan Tung in connection with the alleged brutality.

A day earlier, thousands of maids and their supporters protested in Hong Kong over the case. The arrested woman was brought back to her apartment Tuesday for further investigation.

Four Hong Kong police officers questioned and examined Sulistyaningsih in a hospital on Indonesia’s Java island where she is recovering from her injuries.

“Her physical condition was good for the interview,” said senior inspector Eric Chung Chi-ming. “All the information we got from here will be used for our further action.”

There have been dozens of cases of Indonesian domestic workers being treated badly, sometimes killed, while working in Hong Kong, Malaysia and parts of the Middle East. The maids often speak little English and are beholden to the labor agencies which arrange their trips. They often live with the families and are dependent on them for food and medical care, making them vulnerable to possible exploitation.

Update hourly