A Hong Kong female employer was found guilty and was convicted on Tuesday for beating and starving her Indonesian maid, in a “torture case” that sparked international outrage.
“You are remanded in custody,” Judge Amanda Woodcock told Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother-of-two, who was arrested in January 2014 for seriously abusing her former domestic helper Indonesian Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 24.
Law was found guilty of 18 of the 20 charges against her including grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages.
“I am sure she was telling the truth,” Woodcock said, referring to the victim. “She was, for want of a better word, a prisoner in those premises.”
The verdict was announced to a packed courthouse, mostly activists and supporters of Sulistyaningsih, who has become the face of a campaign for improved workers’ rights.
Sulistyaningsih was happy with the court’s decision but she called for reforms to ensure that employees will no longer be treated “like slaves.”
“I hope they will start treating migrant workers as workers and human beings, and stop treating us like slaves,” the victim said during a press briefing.
She also said that she already forgave her former employer though she hoped that Law would receive life imprisonment when sentencing is announced on February 27.
“For me, personally, she should receive life imprisonment for what she did, and for the fact that she does not have any remorse for past actions,” Sulistyaningsih said. “Justice must be upheld.”
She also recalled how she was tortured, starved, beaten and humiliated by Law and described how she lived for months on nothing but meager portions of bread and rice.
The case has been sensational and sparked protests by migrant workers and has shone a spotlight on the quandary of domestic helpers after reports of torture and killings.
Hong Kong is home to nearly 300,000 migrant workers from Southeast Asian countries — predominantly Indonesia and the Philippines — and criticism from rights groups over their treatment is growing.