Directors of Tenaganita speak to the press on International Migrants Day. Photo: Facebook/ Tenaganita

A Malaysian non-government group that campaigns for minority rights made a public appeal on Monday – International Migrants Day – for an end to exploitation endured by female migrant workers.

Tenaganita is a human rights organization dedicated to assisting and protecting migrants, refugees, plus women and children. Over the past year, it received 536 cases from workers who were deceived or treated unfairly, its executive director Glorene A Das told a media briefing, Nanyang Siang Pau (Malaysia) reported on Tuesday.

Two victims spoke during the media briefing. An Indonesian woman decided to seek help from Tenaganita after being forced to work for more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, without any rest days for four and a half years as a domestic worker and a shop assistant at her boss’ stall.

At the beginning, her employment agency coerced her to take a contract with a monthly wage of only 700 ringgits, but her employer said he would pay no more than 500 ringgits. However, the boss refused to even pay that and, in the end, the victim only received 9,000 ringgits (US$2,208) for the four and a half years – about $1.30 a day.

There was no mention on whether the NGO lodged a complaint with police to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, a 22-year-old Filipino maid who sought assistance from Tenaganita, said she came to Malaysia in May after being promised a job as a secretary with a salary of 3,000 ringgits a month. Her boss had not paid her a salary since she started, and she had been made to work as a waitress on top of her secretarial duties.

Worse still, her passport was confiscated and the Filipina often feared being arrested as she had no any other legal document to verify her identity. Through assistance from Tenaganita, she was able to get back her documentation. But it was not known if she was paid.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.