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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Maid abuse case shocks Malaysia
Nirmala Bonat
Nirmala Bonat said the abuse began when she broke a mug
An Indonesian maid has told a harrowing story of how she was repeatedly burnt with an iron and scalded with boiling water by her Malaysian employer's wife.

Nirmala Bonat, 19, told reporters she had been abused on a daily basis for the last five months.

Malaysian newspapers carried front-page photos of her horrific bruises and scars, in what police claim is the country's worst case of maid abuse.

She has now been given shelter at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Her alleged abuser has been arrested and could face a long jail term.

Maid's plight

Nirmala Bonat's plight was exposed after a guard at one of Kuala Lumpur's wealthy condominiums saw her crying, and spotted the horrific bruises on her face.

She [the employer's wife] then threw boiling water on me... She took the iron out of my hand and pressed it against my breasts
Nirmala Bonat
The guard immediately called police, who were shocked to find that the maid's whole body - including her breasts and back - were severely burnt, The Star newspaper reported.

Nirmala Bonat said the abuse began when she accidentally broke a mug about five months ago.

"She [the employer's wife] then threw boiling water on me," the maid told reporters.

"One day she got upset while I was ironing. She said the clothes had not been properly ironed and slapped me. She took the iron out of my hand and pressed it against my breasts.

"When I go back, what am I going to tell my parents when they see all the scars?" the maid said.

Nirmala Bonat said she came to Malaysia last September, hoping to help support her parents, who are Indonesian farmers.

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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11 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
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