A former Indonesian domestic worker can claim more than $100,000 in damages from a Hong Kong employer who tortured her for several months.
District Court judge Winnie Tsui Wan-wah granted the civil claim on December 21 to Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who suffered from her former employer’s “inhumane, degrading and abhorrent” treatment between May 2013 and January 2014.
Sulistyaningsih told reporters (via ABS-CBN):
“I am very happy with the court judgment. This is a significant step forward for the justice that I have been fighting for.
“Thank you for those who support me. I truly believe that there are many more good people in Hong Kong than bad ones.”
Law Wan-tung, the employer, once inserted a vacuum cleaner tube on the helper’s mouth.
She also stripped her naked and splashed her with water — with the fan on — one day in winter.
In addition, she repeatedly hit the helper with objects, such as clothes hanger, ruler and sticks.
Tsui described the abuse Sulistyaningsih suffered (via the South China Morning Post):
“The things that the defendant did to the plaintiff over those seven months were not done merely to inflict physical pain.
“The defendant’s acts were designed to ‘teach a lesson’ to the plaintiff that she, as the defendant’s domestic helper, was inferior and must do as ordered. It was meant to bring about humiliation, distress and loss of human dignity.”
In her defense earlier this month, Law argued that Sulistyaningsih’s injuries must be self-inflicted or coming from pre-existing conditions.
Without appealing on the recent verdict, she must compensate her former helper $809,430 Hong Kong dollars ($103,480).
Law was sentenced to six years in prison on February 10, 2015 for 18 criminal charges related to labor and assault. Aside from Sulistyaningsih, she abused another helper named Tutik Lestari Ningsih.
Sulistyaningsih, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, pursued the civil case against Law after the criminal trial.
She told the court (via The Standard):
“I still feel hatred toward my previous employer. I am better, but my wounds will never disappear.”
The former helper now studies management at a university in her home country. She hopes that her story will inspire others in the same situation to speak out:
“My hope is that the victory of my civil claim can inspire others who are suffering now as I have suffered to come out…and to go beyond being a victim and become a survivor. Be brave if you are not doing anything wrong.”
Photos: Screenshots via Next Media/YouTube