A Hong Kong District Court has fully backed the compensation claim by former Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who was abused for up to seven months in 2014 by her female employer, Law Wan-tung, in a case that made international headlines.
In its ruling delivered on Thursday, the court gave its backing to a civil lawsuit filed by Erwiana seeking HK$810,000 (US$103,725) for physical and psychiatric damages, noting that the plaintiff’s claim for that amount was “modest and restrained.”
The amount is a total of damages covering pain, suffering and loss of amenities (PSLA), pretrial loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, pretrial expenses, future medical expenses, and other items.
Law was sentenced to six years in jail in 2015, in a trial that attracted international coverage, with many people shocked by the case of modern slavery.
Details of Law’s abuse of the maid were again revealed in Thursday’s judgment, including the insertion of a metal vacuum-cleaner tube into Erwiana’s mouth, and another incident where she was stripped, sprayed with cold water and then forced to stand naked and wet in front of an electric fan one winter day.
“Having considered the evidence as a whole, I accept in full the factual account given by the plaintiff as true,” High Court Judge Winnie Tsui said in her judgment.
“The defendant’s conduct was physically abusive and violent. Her treatment of the plaintiff was inhumane, degrading and abhorrent. It was meant to bring about humiliation, distress and loss of human dignity.
“The plaintiff had suffered profoundly. The circumstances of this case clearly warrant the award of aggravated damages. It should be granted in addition to the ‘basic’ PSLA award made above as compensation for the distress and humiliation which she was forced to go through by the defendant,” Tsui said.
It has been revealed that Erwiana has suffered from depression, headache, insomnia, nightmares and post-trauma syndrome. She now lives in Indonesia, pursuing a degree in economy and management.
The compensation lawsuit was filed in March but Erwiana discovered that Law, her former employer, had transferred her 50% share in the ownership of an apartment worth HK$7.65 million in Beverly Garden, in Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O district, to her husband, Apple Daily reported.
Law denied in the November hearing that she was trying to dodge the compensation.