Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 13:08 UK

Indonesia acts in maid abuse row

By Karishma Vaswani
BBC News, Jakarta

Indonesian migrant workers who say they have fled abusive employers in Malaysia at a shelter in Indonesia's embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 23/6/2009
Some Indonesian workers have fled to a shelter at their embassy in Malaysia

Indonesia says it will temporarily stop sending domestic workers to Malaysia, after a meeting with Malaysian officials in Jakarta.

It is the latest move in a long-running row between the two countries over the treatment of Indonesia's migrant workers by Malaysian employers.

Labour groups have been pressing for better treatment of Indonesia's maids and other workers in Malaysia.

More than a million Indonesians work in Malaysia, most as maids or labourers.

Indonesia has been debating whether to temporarily halt the flow of its domestic helpers to Malaysia ever since pictures of abused Indonesian maids started appearing in newspapers here.

One case in particular has repeatedly made the headlines - that of Indonesian domestic worker Siti Hajar.

Photos of her scarred body have been broadcast on TV channels recently, after she was reportedly tortured by her Malaysian female employer for three years.

Little protection

Hers is not an isolated case. There have been a number of high-profile cases of Indonesian maids reportedly abused in Malaysia over the last few years.

Indonesia's labour minister Erman Suparno says that from Friday, Indonesia will temporarily suspend sending domestic workers to Malaysia to work, until a meeting takes place between the two nations next month.

Malaysia is home to over one million documented Indonesian workers. Most of them are employed as maids or construction workers and often receive meagre wages for their long hours.

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