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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 05:41 GMT
Malaysia acts over maid abuse
By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Filipino maids
Abuse of maids is common
Malaysians who assault their maids are to be barred for life from hiring domestic help.

The head of the country's immigration department says that blacklisted employers will face regular searches of their homes to check that they are complying with the ban.

The immigration director says he wants to uphold the country's image as a nation of caring employers.

In addition to a lifetime blacklisting for anyone physically attacking their staff, those who verbally or emotionally abuse them could face a three-year ban, and those who fail to pay their wages, a two-year ban on hiring help.

Immigration officers will regularly search the homes of convicted employers to make sure that maids have not been taken on in the name of other family members.

Permits freeze

Earlier this month, Indonesia said that it would suspend the issuing of new permits for its citizens seeking to work as maids overseas.

The two-month freeze is ostensibly to allow would-be maids to be better trained, but Indonesian MPs have complained that they face abuse abroad.

Stories of staff being mistreated are common in Malaysia.

More than 200,000 foreigners are believed to work in Malaysian homes.

The country is the second largest destination for Indonesian maids after Saudi Arabia.

Many middle class Malaysian families rely on domestic staff who are typically paid less than $100 a month.

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