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Indonesia

Indonesian domestic helper who wasn’t paid for 18 years rescued in UK

Parinah Iksan Binti Dullah was held by family for almost two decades before being rescued

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 5:30pm

An Indonesian woman kept as a virtual slave by a family for almost two decades has returned to her homeland after being rescued by the UK police.

Parinah Iksan Binti Dullah, 50, arrived at Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta on Wednesday, having left Banyumas in Central Java in 1999 to take a job as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.

At first she was able to communicate with her family, but when her employers relocated to Brighton on the south coast of England in the early 2000s she was subject to more stringent controls.

Dullah was banned from leaving the house unaccompanied and apart from a one-off payment of £1,000 (US$1,400) did not receive a salary for 18 years.

The domestic worker says she repeatedly asked to be paid and to return home, but her employer told her the money was being kept in the bank and she would return home “later”.

Before boarding the flight from London, Dullah said she hoped her case would be a lesson for others.

“Hopefully my case can be an example for other female migrant workers. They must be careful, they must be vigilant if they want to go home and their employer says ‘later’,” Tempo.co reported her as saying.

“Everything must be clear. Do not be like me.”

After years in slave-like conditions, Dullah managed to sneak out of the house alone in January and send a letter of distress to her family. Before receiving the correspondence, her relatives in Java had not heard from her since 2005.

Her family took their concerns to the Indonesian authorities, which later informed the Indonesian embassy in London.

When the embassy contacted the family holding Dullah, they refused to release her, prompting them to contact the Met’s modern slavery unit, which picked her up in Brighton this month.

Dullah’s three children reportedly wept as they greeted their mother when she arrived in Central Java on Thursday morning.

The Middle Eastern family, a couple and their two children, are under investigation and are currently being held in police custody in the UK.

Indonesian migrant workers are regularly subject to mistreatment by their employers in countries such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Anis Hidayah, from the charity Migrant Care, said Dullah’s experience highlighted the need for better mechanisms to ensure migrant worker safety.

“This case shows how important monitoring mechanisms are for the government,” said Hidayah.

“If there is no information from a migrant worker for more than a month, a report should be made so we don’t have cases like this.”