Physical Abuse Stories

Nov 30th, 2008, in News, by

Two stories of physical abuse of Indonesian maids abroad, in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia

Nur, 38 years old, in April 2006 travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid in the employ of Abdullah M Argani. About a year later she gave birth to a daughter, and told that she had been raped by Abdullah’s nephew.

Abdullah and his family did not believe her and reported Nur to the police, and four days after having given birth she was imprisoned in the Ar Ruwais Womens’ Detention Centre in Jeddah, on grounds of sexual license. She was sentenced to two years jail and 2000 strokes of the cane.

Indonesian labour activists and the government attempted to intercede on her behalf and she eventually received only 50 lashes and was released in late October 2008.

While in prison Nur contacted her husband in Puger, Jember, East Java, and advised him to divorce her and marry again. She also attempted to give up her child to a family in Saudi Arabia, but her husband said he was willing to accept the child as his own.

Nur returned to Indonesia in early November 2008, along with baby Rani Dwi Lestari, now 18 months old, and lives again with her husband in Puger. kompas


In 2004 house maid Nirmala Bonat, from Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), was repeatedly tortured by her employer, Yim Pek Ha (40), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by means of a hot clothes iron and boiling water, causing disfiguring injuries to her face and body.

There is a somewhat graphic “before and after” image of Nirmala Bonat here.

On 27th November 2008 Nirwala received some good news – the trial of Yim Pek Ha had concluded with a conviction and a severe sentence of 18 years imprisonment – however it appears Yim Pek Ha will be able to serve her sentence with only home-detention. suaramerdeka

Nirwala has now resumed a normal life in Kupang, working for PT Asuransi Bumi Putra. kompas

69 Comments on “Physical Abuse Stories”

  1. dragonwall says:

    The whole system of Indonesian labor supply to foreign locales is rotten to the core and needs a complete revamp from start to finish.

    No way. They won’t change in the presence of xxxxxxx amount of workers multiply by at least 3,000 USD in expense paid by the workers plus another 1,000 USD from employer then you will understand.

    The employer still remains the same employer. The abuse in Indonesia is monetary. Abroad it’s physical.

    The only change is that the government should set up a body. One that will get the workers prepared before they leave the country when in time of difficulty they could reach someone for help. This body could acted on any of the reported abuse case and bring them up to the government and press for actions and that I suppuse could possiblly reduce the numbers of abuse.

    Here at teh Depnaker it is only Hepeng, nothing else matters most.

  2. Rob says:


    Sorry mate, but the abuse in Indonesia is not only monetary. The example that I gave is but one of many. There are reports of sexual and physical abuse during the recruitment and training phase here in Indonesia. The ILO has reports on this.

    My statement stands, the system is rotten to the core, I did not suggest that it would be easy nor did I suggest that there were not vested interests involved that would seek to undermine reform and change. Those things must be a given as they are always present.

  3. Purba Negoro says:

    Sputjam’s love of the nonsensical feelgood Malaysian tripe.

    Actually – we can do whatever we want including enforcing the Jakarta resident KTP laws so they are banned from entering the city and cannot board planes.

    Under Suharto – there was very serious talk of banning KTW as being an assault on the dignity of our people- and we need to kick Malaysian peasantry back into their correct station- vassal servant- their birth destiny as our hamba.

    Many in the ABRI are hoping for a regional conflict with Malaysia as we wish to settle old scares and put hamba (slave) back into correct station to tuan.

    This is the reality, I quote Defence Minister Sudarsono “one more act of their insolence and we will have 4 million martyrs retake the Minang peninsular”.

    I quote the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank obviously more reputable than the typical BS of of blustery Mingang trying to paint themslves as innocent.
    Despite this alleged benevolence Malaysia has made a formal apology to the Government of Indonesia and sworn to uphold workers’ rights?

    Why are Indonesians in Malaysia the worse offenders for organising violent protest against exploitation- a fantastic example we all hoped would start a major conflict when unarmed protesters keeping 10,000 riot police at bay for one week?

    Furthermore- there exists every opportunity to support themselves in Indonesia- they simply chose the no brain easy option and succumb to the idiocy of peer wisdom-
    “my friend said she earn 1 trillion rupiah as a maid in Saudi- therefore the tales of Arab gold are true and beyond my minuscule mental capacity to examine on their validity.”

    This is the root of the problem- morons believing other morons stupid sinetron-esque rags to riches stories being more factual or persuasive than UN and governmental data.

    The proof casualised global labour free marketeering is total rubbish is that they all return to the same poverty within ten years.

    So this proves the nett effect is zero- thus it is exactly as if they never left- if they have no money in the bank

    Rob- good point- this debt bondage.
    But they volunteer to do these jobs- in full knowledge of the many horror stories.

    It is a lie though that the officials rob these women blind of all their earnings. The more mundane and less sensationalist reality is the bulk was remitted during their employment either informally via friends or via small-scale middlemen with exorbitant fees.

    As you may imagine I am 100% opposed to foreign guest workers.
    If it were means to an end- it would be acceptable- but the reality is as I quoted above:

    few succeed in investing remittances in a business venture and managing it in a sustainable manner.
    Remittances are not utilised to access better health and education services, because the above
    two matters are not the priority of migrant families.

    Remittances that are used to meet various living necessities without any other source of income
    will usually be exhausted within 2-7 months.

    So the nett effect of their trouble is zero.
    So why not spare these peasants from their own idiocy?

    It is only the small scale Agents who will suffer- and these tend not to be indigenous anyway- and those that are are also obviously very nasty turds indeed. Such sleazy businesses do not pay their correct fiscal responsibilities via their Michelin 3 star standard cooked books.

    The simplest solution would be to simply nullify these morons very dodgy passport applications (often their papers are illegal, inadequate or falsified- many peasants too stupid and lazy to bother registering their birth or obtaining a KTP in a timely manner.

    I propose an outright ban is simplest, easiest and most cost and time effective in implementing.
    We can survive without 0.1-1% of GDP- maybe it will teach thees peasants to be more intelligent and resourceful and teach these agents the consequence of immoral parasitic exploitation.

    You were correct the first time- employer.
    DepNakEr has minimal role in this- it is the agent who is the real villain.
    Agents- cuts the salary.
    charges excessive placement and training fee
    high commission
    witholds wages
    charges excessive remittance fees
    practices usary
    pay the bribes- as they break the law.

    The agent is the very worst intestinal worm.

    The real sogok is from Chinese smuggling their illegal contraband in Tanjung Priok- not from robbing pennies from maids.

  4. ET says:

    fullmoonflower said


    This is the most valuable advice I’ve heard in years. Just spit them in their face, that’s all these pretentious bastards deserve.

    Pn said

    Terrorists are specially selected by their controllers- these are just useful puppets to the masters.
    It has nothing to do with religion- but everything to do with politics.

    The Bali bombings had nothing to do with religion???? And politics have nothing to with religion too, I suppose. So what about Darul Islam and Piagam Jakarta?

    Strange logic.

  5. fullmoonflower says:

    @ ET..
    Thank you…

    Btw : are you a bule or indonesian or arab?

    just need to make a decision that I may give you smile or not… 😛

  6. ET says:

    Btw : are you a bule or indonesian or arab?

    No, no, no… just an ET.

  7. fullmoonflower says:

    ET = Extra Terrible? 😆

  8. ET says:

    No, no, no… ET = Extremely Tender.

  9. fullmoonflower says:

    No, no, no… ET = Extremely Tender.

    hmmmm…. that’s lovely to know… 8)

    at least no babu will be affraid to work for you…. 😛

  10. Lanang says:

    @ fullmoonflower

    @ Lanang

    That’s my ex husband’s aunt’s wisdom to her women labours (TKW), avoid to got raped in Arab just because of misunderstanding of a smiling as “ramah tamah” for Indonesian…
    You must have know that Indonesian like to smile… always smile…

    My ex husband’s aunt has a labour distributor company (penyalur TKW dan TKI)…

    Makanya Bung, baca dulu yang diatasnya sebelum komentar… saya bukan menghakimi.. itu cuma nasehat dari budenya mantan suami saya ke TKW-TKW nya yang mau berangkat ke Timur Tengah, supaya mereka tidak pulang tinggal nama atau bahkan punya bayi keriting… gitu…


    No, I don’t understand such wisdom; what’s smiling got to do with physical abuse or rape?

    Simulate the situation as a trial then.

    Judge inquired the rape victim on the stand: Tell me about the incident. What happened before the rape? What provoked it?
    Rape victim answered: I smiled.

    Eh, what?
    No wonder many of our TKWs got beaten up overseas, it’s because the only so called wisecrack wisdom given to them is ‘not to smile’. Why not telling them to be more cautious, to be prepared physically and mentally, have their legal documents ready at all times, educate them with proper skills and discipline, and so forth? And if it’s rape, aren’t you — or okay, your ex husband’s auntie — being a bit too narrow minded by blaming rape victims, women such as yourself, for smiling?

    Thanks for including a row of question marks. Intimidated already?
    Familiarize yourself with them, you’re going to need a lot of it.

    Btw : my side job as Tax and Customs Consultant, and one of my clients is an Arab… Ofcourse I smiled to him when we met in a meeting. That’s a smile of a professional who met her client, not more. And, sure, he gave me respect as I am a professional, not a babu…

    Education and profession are talking here…

    A ‘babu’ is a professional. Maids, nannies, domestic workers, these are people of their own profession.

    Arrogance, seems like it’s there to hide one’s own shame of one self.

  11. fullmoonflower says:

    Well, Lanang…

    Tell me about the incident. What happened before the rape? What provoked it?
    Rape victim answered: I smiled.

    Don’t ask me. I’m not a TKW… please ask to the TKW by yourself.
    Maybe you need to make such of a research for this…

    By the way…
    My clients are not only Arab… but Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, and Bule…

    About the different between a babu with a public drivers in Arab, maybe because of their culture, as slavery is still exist…

    I heard from my nanny’s aunt, who her husband is a bus driver in Jeddah and she is also a cleaning service attendant in Madinah. She told me that public cleaning service attendants (tukang sapu), public drivers (taxi, bus), and industrial labours, are more respectedin Arab than a housekeeper…

    I had a neighbor in Yogya, she is an ex-TKW. She told me that when she worked in Madina, she had to work 24 hours a day, she had to always be seen working, even wiping the wall. She might not be seen taking a rest at all, except in sholat times. That’s why she used this opportunity to take a little bit rest (sleeping) after sholat, even for 15-20 minutes…

    I have an adopted baby who is a TKW’s baby. This poor girl was raped by her boss’s son when she worked in Kuwait. She almost aborted her pregnancy, but I told her that I would took her baby for me, and I would paid everything for her pregnancy even her “ngidam”, until the baby was born… The baby was born by caesar.

    So, Lanang…
    If you are in Indonesia, just come to Sukabumi, Magelang, Brebes, Cianjur, Garut, etc… asked the TKW and their families there directly by yourself… listen their stories, good or bad… and then, you can make a conclusion…

    Thank you

  12. Lanang says:

    And why not make an autobiography novel of yourself? Don’t be so desperate in justifying yourself, fullmoonflower, if you’re indeed that experienced — in reality. Or are you just being someone you’re not?
    Don’t bother to answer, chances are ‘babu’s could answer it for you.

  13. fullmoonflower says:

    hmmm… write a book… 🙄
    actually, I will do it someday… 🙂
    I’m in my research now… while seeing my Kuwaity baby is growing up, pretty and smart.. she deserved to get the best….

    But, by the way, why don’t try to know it by yourself, rather than try to talk opposite with me? 😉

    Or maybe because you are more comfortable to talk to your Pakistani friends rather than talking to common desa or kampung people while “cakruk” in pos ronda, drinking teh poci nasgithel (hot, sweet, and strong) and eating boiled peanuts or singkong, and listen their stories, give them ideas, etc….
    You know, talking to these people, the wong kampung and wong ndeso, is more lovely than talking to the high society person…
    Aduuuh, I can’t talk about how much my deposit, how many my properties, how big my businesses, how to treat this country (talking only, but no action)… I am just a common person, I don’t want to talk too high as my capacity as a simple one.
    I only did what I want and able to do, that’s all… 😕

    Btw : If someday, you visit Yogya, and you see a woman is talking with tukang becak, banci, pengamen in front of Benteng Vredeburg, while drinking coffee or teh poci and eating singkong rebus, singing together with them, playing chess or kartu ceki… that woman is might be me…
    Maybe you’ll like to join us, talking with them… common and simple people with simple living and simple ideas…. That’s lovely…

  14. diego says:

    FMF, you’ve been trying too hard to impress people, I guess. Time to take some rest a little while.

  15. fullmoonflower says:

    Thank you diego… 🙂

    I know, everyone thought that I’m just show off, just because I chose a different way… missing a simple life… want to be a wong ndeso while the others want to get richer and richer…

    Yes, diego, you are right….
    I need to take some rest, because I’ve been tired with materialistic life in this big city for over 18 years… Need to go home, back to my kampung in Yogya, doing simple living, look after my daughter and my extended family, talking with people in Malioboro or at the pos ronda behind my home, and make some jokes with anak-anak kost who stay in my home…
    Then starting to write something in my diary which is never be opened since 20 years ago…


  16. Lanang says:

    Ah. That woman would be you. Why didn’t you say so?
    I am surely not worthy of your humble and endearing words, fullmoonflower. It evaporates the air of wisdom that chokes out the typicality of merendah untuk meninggi facade which might’ve been too appalling for you to witness from a high society elitist such as myself.
    Lovely indeed, and very local. Could tell from the very first moment that you’re one of those proletarian romanticists, constantly on a journey for more photographic moments of the-life-beyond. Anyhow, some say we eventually become what we want to see most in ourselves. And so be it.

  17. fullmoonflower says:

    @ Lanang…

    I copy this for you from another thread :

    ET Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    @ Lanang

    Why do you comment in this thread when the topic was physical abuse of Indonesian workers in countries like Saudi Arabia? What has physical abuse and its causes to do with religious difference and pluralism? Are these maids raped and abused because of their religion which in most cases is the same as that of their rapists and abusers?

    Btw, have you ever been to Saudi Arabia and seen with your own eyes what is going on there?. If not, then lower your tone or better shut up.

    BTW : Yes Lanang, I believe, you must be an Orang Kaya Raya from high society…

    So, whenever you got problem with any taxation and customs investigations or even tax court, please don’t be hesitate to call me… 🙂
    Don’t worry… My fee is not as big as another Tax Consultants, and I’ll give you discount as you are a friend in this blog 😉

  18. Lanang says:

    Believe whatever it is that you’d like to believe, fullmoonflower. Your sanity isn’t a responsibility of mine.

  19. ET says:


    No, no, no… ET = Extremely Tender.

    hmmmm…. that’s lovely to know…
    at least no babu will be affraid to work for you….

    Yes, my babu susu still remembers me affectionately.

  20. fullmoonflower says:

    babu susu?? 😯

    what did you mean? saya masih lugu lho 🙄

  21. Purba Negoro says:

    Mbak, sampun mbaresi dalem.
    Wong sinyo iki sanes wong kures- lelaki gladhagan.

    Waspadala hati panjenanganya.
    Sindhiran ataupun aji pangasih kadek si bule dhogol iki- mbatek cium bawuknya tanpa kawinan.
    Dulu motha-motha, selesai nyarikala.
    Memang si gladhagan.

    Awas ya mbak.

  22. Lanang says:

    Ting nang ning nung ting nang ning nung..

  23. fullmoonflower says:

    Inggih Kangmas PN…

    Matur Nuwun…

    Santai kemawon… bule dhogol ingkang niki pancen nyebahi kok… kadose piyambake penasaran, mangkane namung kulo ece… mangkih dangu-dangu lak piyambake bosen, trus mendel…

    Thanks anyway…

  24. ET says:

    Mbak fullmoonflower

    Cobalah indahkan kata-kata bijak Pak PN.
    Mbak tahu dongeng ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, cerita gadis lugu itu yang dimakan serigala bule yang galak?

    Awas ya mbak.

  25. fullmoonflower says:

    bukannya serigala hitam? 🙄

    Awas ya mbak.

    oh no…. the bule is starting to be abusive…. 😛

  26. Indian says:

    Purba Negoro, Trying to generalize Indians and Arabs as “rapists and sexists” won’t help in anyway promoting Indonesians as a mature people ready to take their place in the homily of nations. Trying to promote Indonesian men as pirates and mass murderers (given the conflicts in your own country) won’t help either.

    The kind of “Indians and arabs” you talk about seem to be the lower class, uneducated and criminal lot, is that the kind of people you hang out with ? Perhaps speaks a lot about your own background then. Perhaps, I would like to invite you to spend some time among the Educated, and elite Indians who have better things to do than rape Indonesian Maids.

    Sin is there in all nations of the earth, Sin manifests itself in different forms.

    Perhaps you have never spend time among the Poor and Humble Indians or Arabs who would open their homes to you if you visited them, treat you as a family member, and would even sacrifice their best to make you happy.

    After all, how many Indians and Arabs do you know personally enough ? How many different Indian cultures or races are you ware of to make that judgment that you made in this forum ?

    As far as Indonesian Maids are concerned, we would be grateful if you stopped exporting unskilled and ineducated people to the world, if they can’t handle the pressures of the outside world, I ‘d rather suggest them to stay within Indonesia and be happy. Perhaps you should focus on providing better opportunities for them and clean your own house and nation in order before abusing Arabs or Indians.

    By the way, the highest rapes take place in the United states, and South africa and Brazil, Non arab and non Indian places.

    I hope you do some introspection in your own attitudes.

    Cheers and Sunshine
    from an Indian male.

  27. Indian says:


    A lot of generalization, and hate against Arabs. I am also aware of many arab Christians families in western nations who have stepped in to Help Indonesian Children and orphans, do mission work. I know Arab Muslims, who had helped Indonesian maids, provided for them, gave them shelter and hope in times of trouble.

    This is what my God teaches me, to love all of mankind, even those who hate me. Rather than hating arabs, what have you done to help them come out of their mindsets? Have you by your extensive travels in arab nations, managed to educate them ? Or I assume and I am sure that the several thousand Indonesian maids have been educated by you, not to travel to such nations but to stay within Indonesia, get educated, and help their own country progress.

    A country’s maturity and progress depends on the way it perceives the world and chooses to react to the differences encountered.

    Cheers and Sunshine
    an Indian male

  28. fullmoonflower says:

    Hate who? 🙄

    I don’t hate anyone. I only tell about what my ex husband’s aunt told to her labours. Thats all.
    Is it wrong to tell anyone about someone’s wisdom to her labours, avoid to looks flirty? That’s not came from my mouth, but my ex husband’s aunt’s mouth.

    Aduh, wrong conclusion about me.

    Indian man,
    I am a muslim, but I believe to “hukum sebab akibat” or “karma” for you religion. I am vegetarian because I love animals. Even cow, the holy animal in India, I never ate them since I was 5 years old till now. It just because I saw them crying before they die.

    I have many arab friends here, and also an arab client, and they treat me like their family. My arab client is my father’s best friend from Sungkar clan. His sons treat my father like their own father.
    My grand father’s sister even married to an arab man too from Al-Maskati clan. Her grand-daughters are kind-hearted, and beautiful for sure.. hehe.

    I admit myself that I have Persian-Gujarati descent.
    No reason for me to hate Arab. Hate them = hate my anchestors… hehe 🙂

    Anyway, this threat is about physical abuse. And as I know, slavery is still exist in Arab culture.
    But actually, not only in Arab, physical abuse can be happened to anywhere, even in Indonesia, since psychophats are everywhere.
    So, as a labour, anyone should do something avoid to get abuse of their boss.
    The one way, maybe like my ex husband’s aunt said : “don’t smile to arab men”. That’s avoid to looks flirty. Nobody can guess anyone’s thinking about whenever they saw a smile of a woman, right? Can be a positive thing, and can be a negative thing..
    The other way, maybe like my neighbour did : always seems working all day, and sleeping after she sholat, even for 15 to 20 minutes..

    Well, it’s all about culture. Didn’t meant generalize arab culture, but a maid usually has to work as her boss culture.
    Every boss has different rules, and the maid has to be more adaptable. Sometime a very stupid maid will be annoyed (I ever had a very stupid maid once). But commonly in any contract I knew, there is an article which said that boss may change their maid 3 times within 3 months whenever they don’t like their maid’s work. So, as a boss, they should use this article as well. Better they change their maid with a new cleverer one rather than abuse the old one. That’s maybe wiser.
    But maybe a psychophat one liker to abuse their maid rather than to change her with a new cleverer one. Who knows?

  29. fullmoonflower says:

    @ Indian

    Or I assume and I am sure that the several thousand Indonesian maids have been educated by you

    educated by me? 🙄

    I am not a labour distributor. My ex husband’s aunt is the distributor. I am only her Tax Consultant.


  30. migs says:


    “I admit myself that I have Persian-Gujarati descent.
    No reason for me to hate Arab. Hate them = hate my anchestors… hehe “

    As far as I know, persians and gujaratis are not of the same race as arabs. In fact, about 70% of persians in iran hates the arabs.

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