Putri is an Indonesian woman who was enslaved in Malaysia as a domestic servant for multiple employers. Foreign workers constitute more than 20 percent of the Malaysian workforce and typically migrate voluntarily—often illegally—to Malaysia from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries, often in pursuit of better economic opportunities. However, workers can find themselves imprisoned, exploited, and in debt bondage. The law allows many of the fees of migration, which are first paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivising employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recovered.
I’m from Wonosobo and I worked in Selangor. Initially I had a good relationship with my employer, but then after a week I was going to be dumped on the street. I had refused to be sent back and insisted that I continue working for two years as agreed initially, but my employer refused. Then they were going to kill me, throw me from the 11th floor.
The problem first started when I was bathing their dog, but the dog did not want to be bathed. And then I had been hanging out the wash, and some fell on the floor, and that was the problem. The wash was on the apartment balcony, and it fell down. We left it to go shopping, and when I came back the clothes were already on the ground, I don’t know why they fell, maybe because the wind, I don’t know. Maybe they just fell by themselves. That’s it. The agent was called in by my Madam. She told the agent that I was not working properly. The agent told me to get a mop, and my employer told me to get the clothes that fell down the balcony, but I first went to get the mop, and that was wrong. That’s it. I was going to be pushed off the balcony.
I was pushed, but then two persons suddenly came and pulled me. If I had fallen I would already be dead now (laughs a little). The two were my employer’s two older siblings who were visiting, from China. There were railings on balcony, and my leg was stuck between the railings and I couldn’t pull it out, I was stuck. I was very scared, afraid that I was going to die. And it hurt where my leg was stuck, like it was going to pop off. I was very scared. Afraid that I’d die, really. I thought they were good people. I didn’t think that they would do that.
And before that, every time they take me to go outside, I was not allowed to get back into the car, I was always going to be dumped. Dumped on the street, and not allowed to return home. Yes, they wanted to dump me, not allow me to go back. They told me to walk, to get off the car. I was not allowed to return home with them. The deliberately wanted to dump me. But I held on to the car. They insisted that I stay where I am and not go home with them. But I refused, and said that if they don’t want me to work, then they must return me to Indonesia. That’s what I asked them to do. If they don’t want to send me back to Indonesia, I wanted to be taken to the embassy. But they refused.
I was returned to the agent. The agent hit me, so one eye doesn’t see very well. I was hit until I was bleeding. He hit me with his bare hand but he was wearing a ring, and the ring punctured my skin.
Then I had another employer. I was told that I will be taking care of an elderly person. But I was raped by my male employer. I was raped while I was unconscious. Maybe I was drugged or something, I don’t know. After I was raped, he made promises. He said that he will give me money amounting to the total of my salary for four years. And then he said he give my passport and buy me a ticket, return me to my home. But in fact, a little later in the afternoon I was collected by my agent. None of the promises were met. I was deceived.
With my third employer I was not given food for two weeks. Because I could not stand the hunger any longer, I fled to the embassy. I have not received my salary.
As told to International Organization for Migration (IOM) affiliates at a shelter in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November 2005.