Rights Groups Welcome Cambodian’s Ban on Workers to Malaysia

Posted October 17th, 2011 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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Human rights groups are welcoming a decision by Cambodia to stop sending domestic workers to Malaysia while Phnom Penh investigates several recent cases of sexual and other abuse.

Rights groups in both countries said Monday the ban should not be lifted until measures are in place to make sure the maids are not exploited by recruitment agencies and employers.

The ban, imposed on Saturday by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, could add to labor shortages in Malaysia, which relies on imported workers for menial jobs. Indonesia barred its citizens from taking jobs as domestic workers in Malaysia two years ago.

Cambodia's action follows a series of cases that prompted headlines in Phnom Penh, including several cases of underage women being recruited to work in Malaysia. In one case, an underage maid was found dead outside her employer's home.

A Malaysian rights group, Tenaganita, says it has rescued scores of Cambodian maids this year, more than half of whom were suffering from sexual abuse or malnutrition.

An estimated 320,000 foreign domestic workers are employed in Malaysia, about 15 percent of them from Cambodia.