Hong Kong housewife arrested for 'abusing' Bangladeshi maid

HONG KONG (AFP) - A Hong Kong housewife was arrested for allegedly assaulting her Bangladeshi maid, police said on Monday, in the latest in a series of cases highlighting the abuse of foreign domestic helpers.

The arrest of the 58-year-old mother-of-two, identified in media reports as Cheung Sau-kuen, comes just a week after thousands of domestic workers marched in the southern Chinese city to demand justice for an Indonesian maid allegedly assaulted by her employer.

The Bangladeshi helper, 27-year-old Akter Kalpona, accused Cheung of punching her in the head, pulling her hair, scratching her hands with a metal brush and confining her to a store room, The Standard newspaper reported.

Cheung was arrested on Sunday afternoon at her luxury apartment in the city's upmarket Mid-Levels neighbourhood for "assault occasioning actual bodily harm", police said in a statement, but was released on bail later in the day.

The victim, whom the police said was sent to hospital for treatment, claims her employer also prevented her from using ointment to treat her injuries.

The allegations come after another Hong Kong mother-of-two was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting her Indonesian maid, in a case that prompted thousands of outraged domestic helpers to rally in the streets.

Law Wan-tung is accused of causing grievous bodily harm to Ms Erwiana Sulistyaningsih with household items such as rulers, a clothes hangar and a mop, that she turned into "weapons".

Ms Sulistyaningsih is currently undergoing hospital treatment in Indonesia after leaving the city this month.

Hong Kong is home to nearly 300,000 maids, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, and criticism from rights groups over their treatment is growing.

In September, a Hong Kong couple were jailed for savagely beating their Indonesian domestic helper, including burning her with an iron and hitting her with a bicycle chain.

Amnesty International in November condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong and accused authorities of "inexcusable" inaction.