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Nightmare’s over: Erwiana graduates with honors

12 September 2018

Erwiana with her proud parents on graduation day

By The SUN

The Indonesian migrant worker whose horrific abuse at the hands of her former Hong Kong employer sparked international outrage, has graduated with a degree in business management, cum laude, from Santa Dharma University in Yogyakarta where she was on scholarship.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih announced her graduation through Facebook on Sept 8, along with pictures of her and her proud parents, as well as friends. The announcement was met with great rejoicing, particularly by her fellow migrant workers in Hong Kong.

In her Facebook post, 26-year-old Erwiana thanked God, her family, university officials, fellow students, and fellow migrant workers for helping her with her intellectual pursuits, as well as her advocacy for “fighting injustice against migrant labour”.

Among the first to congratulate her were Indonesian migrants rights advocates and staff at the Mission for Migrant Workers, who helped Erwiana fight her cases in Hong Kong, both criminal and civil.

Erwiana’s plight came to light in January 2014, when her then employer, housewife Law Wan-tung, put her on a flight to Jakarta, hardly able to walk, and with her face and body all swelled up and bruised. Erwiana had worked for Law for just seven months.

A fellow Indonesian domestic worker who was on the same flight took pictures of Erwiana’s extensive injuries and posted them on social media, before accompanying her to her home in Central Java where she was promptly hospitalized.

After media picked up her story, Hong Kong authorities sent a team of officers to the Indonesian hospital to personally interview and examine Erwiana. 

Law was subsequently prosecuted, and the court heard Erwiana’s testimony of how she was repeatedly tortured by Law over seven months. The two most serious injuries inflicted by Law included a hard punch in the mouth, which fractured the maid’s three front teeth; and the second, when she inserted the metal tube of a vacuum cleaner into the victim's mouth, then twisted it, resulting in a bleeding torn lip and a permanent scar. 

Thirteen months after the abuse was uncovered, Law was convicted on 18 charges of assault, intimidation and underpayment of wages, for which she was jailed for six years.
In December last year, Law was also ordered to pay Erwiana a total of $809,403 in damages.

In thanking all those who helped her rebuild her life, Erwiana said they were “a gift and a bringer of hope,” sent by God to her. She pledged to continue the struggle for “the people who are still oppressed.”

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