We had been hearing a lot of cases of inhuman act by Malaysian home employers against foreign maids while some accuse maid agencies in Malaysia ripe out excessive charges.

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“Maid agencies in Malaysia are more like human trafficking. Maids here are treated like crap. They work hard and are treated like slaves. They put locks on there fridge and prevent them from seeing other people, etc. Maid agencies takes a huge percentage of their salaries. I met maid who only had RM400 a month. Disgusting system. Disgusting people who thinks of their employees as inferior.”


Probably this write up based research paper by Dr. H. Tjipto Subadi of – Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta might able to clear some misconceptions while assist domestic maid employers to understand their maid employee as human:

Dr Tjipto Subadi identified the following five factors as main cause of torture:  

  1. miscommunication between the employer and servant
  2. pissing off their employers with low competency 
  3. the employers’ high demand
  4. making the employers disappointed with their job
  5. and, different culture

In his paper Female Workers And Mistreatment In Malaysia: A Case Of Housemaids From Central Java , he studied 5 (five) Indonesian housemaids in Malaysia those originated from Central Java who were mistreated by their employers in Malaysia.

Also Read : Questions to Ask Before Hire a Maid in Malaysia


Most of bad mistreatments of maid in Malaysia are due to low competency and misscommunication. The employers are in opinion that their works was not satisfactory;  not a professional, and some miscommunication. Below are some feedbacks reported in the study :

  1. Ms P explained that, she was frequently beaten, because she always misunderstood her employer, and that she did not have the ability to work as a maid in Malaysia.
  2. SH, she was frequently beaten by her employer, because she cannot satisfy the employers’ desires.
  3. A neighbor every much pitted Ms. Mo for getting a punishment for talking back on Wednesday night when it was raining heavily.
  4. While in case of Ms. Sut , she subjected to treatment as a slave and was tortured by her employer, because there was always miscommunication.

One of main reason for this this high expectation is due to high amount of capital outlay or investment in recruiting a maid.  Beside paying somewhere between RM10,000 to RM15,000 they need to make sure of minimum monthly wages.

Therefore, the employer has very high expectation in getting most qualified servant. If the servant fails to serve as they expect, the employer will be very disappointed and this will lead to mistreatment.

Furthermore, there is the tendency of having low education among the Indonesian maids. Consequently, it will make them have the difficulty in understanding what their employers want. Most of them use broken mother tongue language for communicating. Some of Indonesian housemaids are even having difficulties in understanding their proper mother tongue language, even more, to understand another language. This subsequently leads to miscommunication or misunderstanding of the instruction regarding the house chores. Consequently, this will create tension and rouse anger among the employers.

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The situations of maids’ mistreatment in Malaysia are becoming worse due to bad institutional structure and the differences in Acts by Indonesian-Malaysian. There are some differences in the Labor Act of the two countries, specifically Malaysia.

Differences in laws that regulates problem with labors results in a violent action against domestic home maids and it does not get any solution as expected by the. Therefore, great difference between Indonesian and Malaysian’s Act results in violence acts against servants, especially those related to human rights and social insurance of “not having legal protection.”

A finding by University Malaysia senior researcher in 2009  states  that the case of violence against servants is not only considered as a normal criminal action, but it also includes many other aspects. In addition to the humanistic dimension, criminal issue and violence against foreign servants in Malaysia will also have a diplomatic, international relation, and enforcement dimension of the Act.

It means that in addition to disturbing the relationship of the two countries, this case can also result in a confidence crisis in state administration and our justice system.

For sake of discussion let us assume that Indonesian-Malaysia governments will provide assurance for employers to hire non-problematic Indonesian workers, and will continue to take great effort of protecting them, especially those who have complied with legal procedures.