Maid Decides to Drop Sexual Assault Claim

A woman who had been part of the Ministry of Labor’s pilot program to send domestic workers to Singapore returned to Cambodia on Monday after withdrawing a sexual assault complaint.

Ms. Samean, 34, had filed a sexual assault complaint with Singapore’s police and Ministry of Manpower against the elderly father of her employer, according to NGOs, but had to drop the case in order to leave the country.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the Cambodian Ministry of Interior’s department of anti-human trafficking, said his officers met a returning domestic worker at the Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday, but declined to comment further.

“We have received a Cambodian migrant worker returning from Singapore today and we are now questioning her,” Mr. Phally said. “I can’t tell you more information about this because we are working on it.”

Sara Piazzano, chief of the USAID-funded Counter Trafficking in Persons II program, which helped train the maids before they left for Singapore and works with Singapore-based NGOs to advocate for their rights, confirmed that it was Ms. Samean who had returned.

Singaporean law stipulates that any party involved in a police complaint must remain in the country until the case is complete.

“It is clear that she signed a statement [to withdraw her complaint] because that was required by Singapore law,” Ms. Piazzano said.

“The NGO [in Singapore] explained to her that if you want to leave Singapore, you have to remove your complaint—and she really wanted to come home.”

Directives enacted by the Ministry of Labor to protect domestic workers overseas say that the worker’s recruitment agency must help an abused maid file a complaint with police in Cambodia.

Ms. Samean was sent to Singapore by the Philimore Cambodia agency in February.

Neither Philimore nor the Ministry of Labor could be reached for comment Monday.

[email protected], [email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this article named Chiv Phally as the director of the Ministry of Interior’s department of anti-human trafficking. He is the deputy director. 

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