An Indonesian maid is making the headlines for what most Malaysians say is an unforgivable act but some experts argue is a traditional and innocent way to overcome a pressing personal dilemma. One day last month her employers, a Chinese couple, told maid Arsiyanto, 26, from West Java, to work harder and be more positive. Their advice panicked Arsiyanto, hired last February, into believing that her employers disliked her, were unhappy with her work and that her future was now gloomy. She became distressed when the employers installed video cameras to monitor her work. All these weighed heavily on Arsiyanto and she desperately sought help from the only people she knew - other maids in the same apartment block. They urged her to use a time-tested village remedy - black magic, talismans, amulets and the like - to jampi or 'charm' her employer into liking her and thus save the situation. So Arsiyanto soaked her used sanitary pad in her employers' drinking water, believing the 'black power' generated would charm the couple into liking her when they drank the water. Unfortunately on May 20, Arsiyanto was caught on videotape mixing the pad into the drinking water. The shocked employers viewed the tape this week and confronted Arsiyanto, who owned up to the act, explaining she only wanted to 'charm' them into liking her. She admitted dirtying the water twice. 'We don't believe in charms or black magic but are extremely unhappy we drank that water,' said employer K.K. Lien, a businessman. 'It was horrid what she did.' But experts advised against condemning Arsiyanto, saying the use of black magic and charms is part of indigenous Indonesian culture. 'Such incidences are inevitable when you take a person from a remote village and cloister her in a modern high-rise in an urban jungle,' said Irene Fernandez, head of Tenaganita, a human rights organisation working with Indonesian maids. She said Arsiyanto was simply falling on a traditional remedy to cope with stress. 'She is as much the victim as her employers,' Dr Fernandez said. Michael Chong, a prominent humanitarian, intervened and persuaded the Liens not to press charges, but they will not take back Arsiyanto. Newspapers published photographs of a grim-looking Arsiyanto shaking hands with Mrs Lien and offering an apology while Mr Lien looks on glumly. Arsiyanto will be deported to Java next week.