Three arrested for abusing Lao maids
– Bangkok Post, 17 January, 2008
Police rescue minors who had been tortured
A two-year nightmare for three young girls from Laos came to an end yesterday when police arrested three Thai people who had employed them as maids and charged them with physical assault and other charges.
The Thais were arrested yesterday and charged with abusing the Lao domestic workers, all of them minors who they allegedly treated as child slaves, in their houses in Samut Prakan’s Bang Na area.
It is alleged the Thai employers tortured the girls regularly, beating them with a wooden baton or a sharp object and burned them with hot cooking pots when they were not happy with their work.
Following a tip-off, police yesterday raided two houses near a market at the Bang Na intersection and found the three young female Lao workers had been badly treated and abused.
Two of the abused workers _ Jib, 10, and Rud, 15 _ were rescued from one house and a third worker, identified only as Pla, 16, from another house. Rud was found with bruises and burn marks on her body. Jib and Pla had also faced similar abuse.
Police arrested Pichai Likhitwiwatkul, 61, and his wife Sirilak, 54, who employed Jib and Rud. They also apprehended Arjan sae Chin, 47, who was Pla’s employer. The three were charged with sheltering illegal alien workers, using child labour and physically assaulting them. They denied all charges.
Theerasak Suriwong, the head of the child welfare centre, said Rud told police that she and the other workers from Laos had been recruited illegally by Thai job brokers two years ago. The girls had been offered jobs as maids at the Likhitwiwatkul house. However, Rud said she never received the 2,000 baht a month wage promised to her by the couple during the past two years.
The girl told police she had been tortured by Mrs Sirilak, who often used a wooden baton or a sharp object to hit her when she flew into a fit of rage when she was not satisfied with her work.
The girls were not allowed to watch TV or listen to the radio. The couple also ordered her not to go out and talk to neighbours or she would be arrested by police for illegal entry into Thailand .
They were forced to work from 3am until 10pm every day, said Pol Col Theerasak, who quoted Rud.
Before being rescued, Mrs Sirilak became angry with Rud for turning on the stove to warm food for Jib, saying she was wasting gas. She then scorched Rud’s right arm with the hot pot used to warm the food. After being rescued, Rud broke into tears and said she would never return to Thailand after being sent home.
Police added that Pla appeared to be exhausted from overwork when she was rescued. The girls were taken to a hospital for a physical examination and were later placed in the care of social welfare workers.
The girls will be sent to the immigration police, who will begin the process to deport them.