Tyrone Siu / Reuters

HK woman gets six years for maid abuse

A Hong Kong woman was sentenced to six years for assaulting, injuring and failing to pay her Indonesian maid

A Hong Kong woman who punched her maids, beat them with mops and threatened to kill their relatives was jailed for six years on Friday in a case that triggered outrage and exposed the plight of millions of domestic helpers across Asia.

Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, looked stunned as District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock handed down the sentencing, saying "the seriousness of the charges and circumstances of the offences means a lengthy prison time is appropriate."

In addition to prison, the judge fined Law 15,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$1,930).

Law had pleaded not guilty to the 20 charges but had admitted one of not buying insurance cover for her maid. Earlier this month, Law was found guilty of 18 charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and an another maid, also from Indonesia. 

The case highlighted the vulnerabilities of migrants working as domestic staff across Asia and the Middle East and strained ties with Indonesia. 

Sulistyaningsih's case came to light when graphic pictures of her injuries started circulating among Indonesians in Hong Kong, showing her face, hands and legs covered with scabs and lacerations, and blackened, peeling skin around her feet.

Sulistyaningsih worked for Law, who has two teenage children, for about eight months starting in June 2013.

Most of the 330,000 maids or domestic helpers in Hong Kong are from the Philippines and Indonesia. Almost all of them are women, who can earn more in Hong Kong than they can at home, which helps them support their families at home.

They earn a small fraction of the Hong Kong minimum wage and live with their employers, often in tiny apartments. Human rights groups say they often suffer physical and emotional abuse, including sexual assault.

Wire services


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