HK woman who abused Indonesian maid jailed for six years

February 27, 2015 15:32
Former Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih is greeted by supporters outside the district court on Friday. Photo: Reuters

A Hong Kong mother of two was jailed for six years on Friday for abusing her Indonesian maid.

Law Wan-tung, 44, a former beautician, looked stunned as the sentence was passed after being found guilty of 18 of 20 abuse charges, Reuters reported. She was also ordered to pay a fine of HK$15,000 (US$1,934).

The charges included inflicting grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

Law looked emotionless as she was led out of court, according to the news agency. She had pleaded not guilty to the 20 charges but had admitted one of not buying insurance cover for her maid.

Judge Amanda Woodcock read out her verdict, saying "damning evidence" revealed "how little care and kindness the defendant showed" for Erwiana, who had told media she would forgive her former boss and her family.

The brutality meted out to Erwiana has sparked calls for Hong Kong to revise its policies on migrant workers. Around 30 supporters of Erwiana protested outside the court.

Erwiana, who arrived in Hong Kong in 2013, returned to Indonesia in January last year where doctors said burns on her body were caused by boiling water.

Photographs of a battered Erwiana posted online sparked outrage and Indonesia's then president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, described her treatment as torture.

Hong Kong has about 330,000 foreign domestic helpers, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia and nearly all women, who can earn more in the territory to send back to their families than they can at home.

They earn a small fraction of the minimum wage and are forced to live with their employers, often in tiny apartments.

Human rights groups say they often suffer physical and emotional abuse, including sexual assault.

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File photo of Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother of two, who was jailed for six years and ordered to pay a fine of HK$15,000. Photo: Reuters
Law Wan-tung (center) arrives at the district court aboard a prison van on Friday. Photo: Reuters