Myanmar national Moe Moe Than, who was abused by her employers, stayed at the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics' (Home) shelter for two years and three months and was housed at another shelter prior to that (Couple sentenced to jail for abusing maid, who was caned and forced to eat own vomit, March 19).
She was allowed to return home to Myanmar in December 2017 following police investigations and court proceedings.
It is heartening that justice was finally meted out following a long and exhausting wait for a victim of extremely horrific abuse.
Unfortunately, besides a sense of justice, Ms Moe Moe Than received little else.
The sentence for the accused persons included a jail term of 47 months and 24 months for the female and male employers respectively. The woman was also fined $4,000.
The judge also ordered that a compensation of $9,500 be paid to Ms Moe Moe Than.
Home understands that the employers' defence counsel had noted that Ms Moe Moe Than's employers do not have the ability to pay the fine or compensation and as such, will be serving longer jail terms in lieu of the fine and compensation.
We hope that going forward, Parliament and the judiciary can consider other solutions to ensure compensation to migrant workers who are victims of such abuse.
This is particularly important for victims like Ms Moe Moe Than, in view of the hardship they had to endure, such as their inability to return home or seek employment during the course of the investigations and court proceedings.
It is worth considering whether the current legal framework can be amended to ensure that the assets of employers who are ordered to pay compensation may be used as a guarantee.
This will ensure that compensation orders, or at least a part of them, will be complied with.
To ensure a more rights-based approach to victim protection, there needs to be assured access to decent employment opportunities, financial assistance, legal aid, counselling, rehabilitation services and medical treatment.
Sheena Kanwar (Ms)
Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home)