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Maid accuses employer of burning her arm

28 March 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

For not blanching vegetables fast enough, a Filipina domestic helper allegedly got her right forearm burnt by her Hong Kong employer on Jan 17, just over two weeks after the maid began working at the latter’s home in Wanchai.
Florence M. Pacio, 39, suffered a second-degree burn from the attack, which allegedly took place in the kitchen of the employer’s flat at Miramar Villas in Shui Fai Terrace.The Filipina showed a two- by four-inch oblong burn scar left by the attack on her right forearm, as well as two small round bruises on both sides of her chest that allegedly resulted from repeated finger-poking by the employer each time she made mistakes.
Burn attack victim shows
scar on her forearm.
Pacio said the burning incident took place in the kitchen on Jan 17. The helper said her employer was watching her blanch a basinful of vegetables in a wok of boiling water and prodding her in Cantonese to do it faster.Thinking that the boss was telling her to do it in one go, Pacio put all the vegetables at once into the wok, irking her employer.
“Suddenly she grabbed the stainless steel basin that lay next to the blazing stove and pressed it against my arm. (I said) Ma’am, you hurt me. My arm aches!’ I cried as my tears rolled down my eyes because of the pain,” the Filipina said.
The employer reportedly told Pacio to look for medicine in her room, but all that the helper found was a tube of toothpaste which she proceeded to apply on the burn. The next day, the employer brought home a cream for her injury. But the injury got infected and developed a large blister. The helper said her arm became numb and she could not stretch it.
“When I was about to take my day off, she told me told me not to tell anyone about the incident. ‘Don’t tell your friends’,” said Pacio, a mother of four teenagers who returned toHong Kong for her second employment in the city only on Dec 28.
After the burn attack, the employer reportedly began hurting Pacio on a regular basis, from poking her temples or chest with her finger, squeezing her face, or pinching her.
“Ma’am don’t do that to me, it hurts,” she would reportedly plead each time.
The employer in turn would say , “What do you want me to do, die in front of you?”
Pacio said every morning the employer would nag her or shout at her to the point of torment. Each morning, too, she was made to handwash a towel and hang in the bathroom to dry, but because of her injury she could not squeeze the towel very well. One morning in January, when the employer saw water from the towel dripping on the bathroom floor, she accosted Pacio and allegedly kicked her hard in her bottom and left waist.
“It was very painful. I told her to stop but she was still very angry,” said Pacio, pointing to her bottom and left side where the alleged kicks landed. She said there were still bruises on her body because of the attacks. “Whenever she would get angry she'd hit me on my head or squeeze my face,” Pacio said. “She also always calls me ‘chi sin’ (crazy).”
On Feb 17 at between 10 and 11 pm, the employer reportedly asked the maid to bring her a mug of hot water in the bedroom. When Pacio was already helping the employer’s mother with her Nebulizer, the employer came over and asked why she brought her hot water in the room. “I said I did just as she ordered, and she got mad,” the helper said, adding that before she realized it, her employer had already poured the hot water on her back from the nape down, as the Filipina screamed in pain.
On Feb 18 at around 4pm, the employer’s mother also allegedly attacked the maid, squeezing her ears and poking her head after seeing that the clothes were not hung properly in the room. The old woman again allegedly pinched her ears and squeezed her face the next morning after Pacio could not fix a defective lighting. “When my employer left, I texted my friend and told her I couldn’t take it anymore,” Pacio said.
On Feb 20, when she took her day off, her friend accompanied her to the employment agency where the agent allegedly offered to pay her salary and one month’s pay in lieu of notice in exchange for not reporting to the police. But Pacio, a vegetable farmer’s wife from Atok, Benguet, went to the police on Feb 24 after running away from her employer’s house, and told her story.

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