>LETCHUMY (not her real name) says their ordeal began in 2001 when she and her husband were promised higher wages of between RM500 and RM600 a month if they agreed to work under a new contractor in the estate.
This decision turned out to be her worst nightmare when they treated like slaves and given only RM100 to RM150 monthly.
After several months, the contractor stopped paying them.
"We took up the offer because we wanted to earn more money to give our children a better life. However, as soon as we started work, the contractor forced us to work long hours with hardly any rest in between.
"There were numerous times when we fell sick and asked for time off, but were instead beaten and forced to go back to work. Even my children, the youngest who is 11 years old, were not spared."
Letchumy says they were repeatedly beaten and tortured.
"I could not bear to see my children being tortured. At times when we were not given proper food, they would give the men alcohol as payment.
"Whenever we asked for our salary, they would say that we owed them money for staying in the estate and gave other excuses. They would tell us that we had debts to settle with them when in fact we owed them nothing."
She says she and two of her children were sent to the contractors' "prison" in Bahau as punishment for a year-and-a-half after they took some days off.
"The 'prison' was in a residential area. They fed us with spoilt food and on some days, they would wake us up at 2am and take us to the estates to work. Women were also sexually abused."
She says after enduring this living hell for seven years, she sneaked out of the estate and lodged a police report. The contractor was detained but released two days later.
"I knew he would come for me and that was when we decided to escape. That night in March, we hid in a nearby jungle.
"We then hitch-hiked on lorries until we reached Malacca."