Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding an explanation from Malaysia’s courts on why they allowed an employer who abused her 21-year-old Indonesian maid to death to walk free without punishment.
The maid, Adelina Jerima Sau, had been forced to sleep with the dog outside the house of her employer of two years, 61-year old Ambika MA Shan, Bernama reported on Monday (April 22).
According to Bernama, Adelina was rescued from the house in Bukit Mertajam – a town in Penang – on Feb 10, 2018 after a neighbour took a photo of her outside the house.
The young woman had serious injuries over her whole body, pus-filled burns on her arms and legs, and her face was swollen, Bernama reported. She died in the hospital the following day from multiple organ failure, the New York Times reported.
Ambika was charged with murder shortly after Adelina died, and would have faced a mandatory death sentence.
But last week, Penang’s High Court abruptly dropped the charge against the employer, a move that drew heavy criticism from the public, welfare organisations, and the Indonesian consulate, which sent an official letter demanding an explanation for the decision on Sunday (April 21), Bernama said.
Penang Indonesian consul-general, Iwanshah Wibisino, told Bernama that the consul had to “give an explanation” to Adelina’s family on why the case was dropped.
In a Twitter post on Saturday (April 20), Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, who helped rescue Adelina, said he had contacted the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to obtain an explanation for the acquittal.
“The attorney-general has responded that he will personally investigate this matter to look into the next course of action,” Sim said.
Saya telah menghubungi Peguam Negara sendiri berhubung kes Adelina untuk mendapatkan penjelasan.
Beliau memberi respon bahawa beliau sendiri akan menyiasat perkara ini untuk melihat apa langkah seterusnya yang akan diambil.
— Steven Sim (@scheekeong) April 20, 2019
Meanwhile, a petition demanding justice for her has garnered close to 15,000 signatures in three days.
The petition, started by Malaysian human rights group Tenaganita, called for the AGC to provide a full account of what transpired during court proceedings that led to Ambika’s acquittal, and for the Domestic Workers’ Bill be passed in Parliament as soon as possible.
“Too many domestic workers have died in our neighbourhoods. Adelina isn’t the first, and she won’t be the last unless we act right now to change this culture of violence and slavery in Malaysia,” Tenaganita wrote.
“Too many continue to be abused, tortured, made to work for long hours every day without pay and without a day off. Too many have been starved, sexually abused, denied their wages, locked up, and treated in other heinous ways.”
On social media, hundreds of netizens also voiced their unhappiness with the court ruling with the hashtag #JusticeforAdelina.
Shame on the judiciary system for letting #JusticeForAdelina slip through the cracks. How can sick, coloniser attitudes towards ownership & torture of working female bodies be addressed if there’s no punishment? This MUST be addressed ASAP by AG Chambers! CC: @Tenaganita https://t.co/DQMMuEHtjL
— Tehmina Kaoosji (@TehminaKaoosji) April 20, 2019
“She was a young woman made to work for two years without pay. She was a young woman whose body was brutalised. Her death has to mean something.
“Why have our courts failed her? Why has the Malaysian government failed her? Where is #JusticeForAdelina?”
The AG must answer. https://t.co/MoWUN1kguC
— MyStarSignIsExhausted (@DellaLupi) April 20, 2019
Some also asked for forgiveness from her family on behalf of the country.
— 🌻Tijan🌻 (@TijanTijan87) April 21, 2019
As Malaysian and as a person who live in the same state, I humbly ask for forgiveness to her family. This is all I can do, I’m sorry.
— S.A.0 (헤이즐넛 커피) (@aishah_hh93) April 22, 2019