Malaysia's attempts to stop human trafficking

Malaysia's attempts to stop human trafficking
Human trafficking victims being taken to court. Rescued victims in Malaysia are put under protection order for 90 days while their cases are being investigated and processed.

MALAYSIA - All Suzilawati* wanted to do after escaping her employer's house was to go home. But she was stuck in the government shelter for human trafficking victims for almost a year while waiting for her case to be heard.

Promised a job at an electronics factory, Suzilawati was forced to work as a maid when she got to Malaysia.

Not only were the hours long and gruelling, she was also not allowed to leave the house or call her family, and her passport was confiscated. Then her employers started beating her.

"I thought enough was enough and managed to get through the (human trafficking) emergency hotline. But after I escaped that 'prison', I felt like I was in another prison," says the 30-something mother of two from Indonesia.

Worse, she adds, she could not send money home for her children as she could not work while in the shelter.

"I was worried about them, whether they had enough to eat, if they were safe, and blamed myself for getting tricked by the agent. I became so depressed that I thought of killing myself a few times," shares Suzilawati who now works as a cleaner after her "ordeal" ended more than a year ago.

Suicide attempts are common among the rescued victims at the human trafficking shelters, says Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (Camsa) country manager Daniel Lo.

"Waiting can make anyone depressed, especially if you don't understand what is going on," he says.

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