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Trial begins in Hong Kong maid abuse case
02:25 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Indonesian domestic helper testifies before a Hong Kong court

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih told the court she was tortured by her former employer

Law Wan-tung faces 21 charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm and assault

Law pleaded not guilty to all except one charge

Hong Kong CNN  — 

An Indonesian maid has told a Hong Kong court that she was tortured for six months by her former employer, who shoved a vacuum cleaner tube into her mouth, tearing her mouth.

In two days of disturbing testimony, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a 23-year-old domestic helper, said through an interpreter she endured all sorts of abuse, including being punched, slapped, kicked and beaten unconscious.

The case sparked international outrage when gruesome images of her injuries surfaced earlier this year and she was admitted to a hospital in Indonesia in critical condition.

Erwiana’s former employer Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old housewife, faces 21 charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault and criminal intimidation.

Law pleaded not guilty to all charges, except one, for failing to take out an insurance policy for an employee.

Stripped naked

Speaking calmly, Erwiana described an incident when she said she was punished for dozing off during work.

“I was taken to the bathroom and she took off all my clothes and she sprayed cold water on me,” she said.

She said she was not allowed to put her clothes back on, and her employer switched on an electric fan and pointed it at her for hours before she was allowed to dress herself.

Prosecutors accused Law, a mother of two, of using a mop, ruler, and coat hangers to beat Erwiana and also pulled her down from a ladder while she was cleaning.

Erwiana said on one occasion she was beaten unconscious, and after she came to, her employer forced her back to work.

“She often punched my eyes and I was shocked. And she kept on punching and punching me,” says Erwiana.

Erwiana said she was forced to work for 20 hours a day, and was only allowed to sleep between 1 p.m to 5 p.m.

“I had to sleep on the floor,” says Erwiana.

All she was given to eat was three to six pieces of bread and a bowl of rice each day.

Call for justice

Several migrant rights activist groups rallied outside the Wanchai District Court on Monday, calling for justice for Erwiana.

The case also involves charges of assault on two other Indonesian domestic helpers, Tutik Lestari Ningsih and Nurhasanah, who were under Law’s previous employ.

She could face up to seven years of imprisonment for the charges of causing grievous bodily harm, the maximum term the District Court can sentence.

In January, thousands of people marched to the streets in support of the allegedly abused young Indonesian worker.

Amnesty International issued a public statement in June urging the Hong Kong government to take immediate action to “end the widespread abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers.”

According to a report released last year, Indonesian migrant workers are at risk of serious human rights violations in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong employs some 320,000 foreign domestic workers mainly from Indonesia, Philippines and from other parts of Asia.

READ MORE: Indonesian migrant worker tells of abuse as thousands protest in Hong Kong

CNN’s Esther Pang and Vivian Kam contributed to this report