Burma

Karen Housekeeper Alleges Abuse by Rangoon Employer

By Moe Myint 24 September 2015

RANGOON — A 23-year-old housekeeper who says she was physically abused by her employer is now recovering from severe head injuries at a hospital in Rangoon.

The ethnic Karen woman, who lived with and tended the apartment of a couple near the Yangon International School, said that she withstood violence perpetrated by the housewife over the past five months.

While the abuse was recurrent, the housekeeper said, the situation became intolerable on Sept. 19, when the housewife allegedly brutally assaulted her after accusing her of infidelity with the husband.

A case has been filed against the housewife with the Thingangyun Township Police, who told The Irrawaddy that an investigation is underway and if found guilty the accused could face one to seven years in prison.

The Irrawaddy visited the plaintiff at the hospital on Wednesday, finding her face badly bruised and swollen. She said that she had been hit in the head with a porcelain bowl, beaten with a rattan broom and had house keys shoved into her ear canal.

Despite months of similar treatment, which she claims she was subjected to “whenever they would quarrel,” the young domestic worker kept quiet because much of her 80,000 kyat (US$62) was used to support her family in Irrawaddy Division. Moreover, she professed gratitude toward the housewife, who she said she viewed as family.

“I love her so much, as an elder sister, because I don’t have a sister. And I was patient even though she hit me many times, she threatened to kill me,” the woman said. “But at last, I can’t stay anymore and I had to run away from her.”

The accused housewife and her husband were not available for comment on the case, though The Irrawaddy made several attempts to reach them. A visit to their home, on the guidance of the accuser, proved fruitless as the couple would not answer phone calls or knocks on the door.

The housekeeper has not received any financial support for her medical care, but she said she now hopes to seek compensation and justice for the alleged abuse.

Police said that if the accused cannot independently reach an agreement with the plaintiff, the case will likely result in a prison sentence. Prosecutions in cases of domestic violence and employee abuse, however, are rare in Burma, where law enforcement is under-resourced and notoriously corrupt.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy from her hospital bed, the woman said she hopes only that her case will be adjudicated “in accordance with the law.”

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