Mom Gets 6 Years Over Abused Maid Living in Closet

Law Wan-tung starved, beat Indonesian maid over 8 months
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2015 11:03 AM CST
Mom Gets 6 Years Over Abused Maid Living in Closet
Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, second right, shakes hands with supporters as she arrives at a court in Hong Kong Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Even in jail, Law Wan-tung is likely to have better living conditions than the Indonesian domestic servant she abused over eight months in 2013. A judge has sentenced the 44-year-old Hong Kong woman to six years in jail; she had been convicted of 18 of 20 abuse charges she faced in relation to her treatment of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. The now-24-year-old testified she was forced to clean her home for 20 hours a day without pay, live in a closet, pee in a bag or bucket so as not to sully the toilet, and eat only bread and rice, the New York Times reports. The abuse emerged with photos of an emaciated Erwiana in an Indonesian hospital. Law, a former beautician and mother of two, had sent her back to the country in January 2014 in a diaper, because she was too frail to use a toilet, and wearing several layers of clothing and makeup to hide her thin body and bruises. A taxi driver who took the pair to the airport testified that he smelled urine and feces, the Times notes.

The maid testified Law also broke two of her teeth, forced a vacuum cleaner tube in her mouth, beat her with a mop, and threatened to kill her family, AFP and Reuters report. Law "showed no compassion" and saw her domestic staff as "people that are beneath her," said the judge, who called for an investigation into domestic worker employment agencies, which charge workers "significant fees" that they must work to pay. She also criticized a law requiring workers to live with their employers. Though Law faced a maximum seven years in jail, Erwiana slammed Law's sentence as "light." Some 300,000 women, largely from Indonesia and the Philippines, work as domestic servants in Hong Kong, where they earn far less than minimum wage. (More Hong Kong stories.)

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