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Erwiana wins over $800k in damages from ex-employer

22 December 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao
Erwiana with the Misiion's Cynthia Tellez ar the
srtart of the hearing of her civil claim 

Indonesian former domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has been awarded her total claim of $809, 403 against her former Hong Kong employer who tortured her for more than seven months three years ago.

District Court Judge Winnie Tsui handed down the judgment on Dec. 21 with neither party present. 

In her decision, Judge Tsui called Sulistyaningsih’s maltreatment “inhumane, degrading and abhorrent.”

Sulistyaningsih is due to hold a press conference at 2:30pm today in Jordan to speak about her court victory. She will be assisted by the Mission for Migrant Workers manager Cynthia Tellez and Asian Migrants Coordinating Body chair Eni Lestari, who both helped Sulistyaningsih pursue her case.

It was the second vindication for Sulistyaningsih, whose former employer, Law Wan-tung, was jailed for six years in 2015 for her almost daily abuse of the Indonesian helper.

“The things which then defendant did to the plaintiff over those seven months were not done merely to inflict physical pain. They were meant to insult and to subdue the plaintiff to a state of total submission to the defendant’s authority,” Tsui said.

The damages awarded comprised $450,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenities; $180,000 in aggravated damages for repeated assault and false imprisonment; $86,249 for pre-trial loss of earnings; $50,000 for loss of earning capacity; pre-trial expenses of $33,269 and future medical expenses of $9,910.

Now 25 years old and studying management and economics, Sulistyaningsih initiated the civil action against her former boss on Mar 16, 2015, about a month after Law was jailed for six years by District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock.

Tsui noted that Sulistyaningsih, represented by Tony Ko from Boase, Cohen & Collins,  had filed two statements before the hearing.

“She also gave evidence as the only witness at the hearing,” Tsui said.

Law at her court trial
Law, meanwhile, “acting in person, was not in any position to put forward a positive case to counter the amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff,” the judge said. The jailed former employer also chose not to cross examine the plaintiff.

Thus, the court said it could not consider Law’s allegations that Sulistyaningsih’s injuries were not as serious as the helper had claimed.

“Having considered (Sulistyaningsih’) evidence as a whole, I accept in full the factual account given by the plaintiff as true, including the abuses and maltreatment that she had gone through and endured…and her physical injuries and psychiatric symptoms,” Tsui said.       

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