A 26-year-old woman accused of trafficking 24 Cambodian women to work as maids in Malaysia was arrested in Phnom Penh on Thursday, according to the National Police.
Oum Radin tricked 16 women from Kompong Cham province, six from Kompong Thom province and two from Kompong Chhnang province into traveling to Malaysia with the promise of a salary of between $300 and $400 a month, the statement posted to the National Police’s Facebook page said. The statement did not say how old the victims were.
“All the victims agreed to go and the offender prepared documents and passports, taking them to Malaysia since 2014,” the statement said. Once in Malaysia, a broker gave Ms. Radin about $1,500 each for the women and they were forced to work 18-hour days, seven days a week, it said.
Eventually, the women were rescued and returned home, the statement added. No details were given on how the women were rescued or when. Previously, maids have sought help at the Cambodian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Ms. Radin, of Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, was sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday morning for questioning.
Municipal court spokesman Ly Sophana said on Friday that Ms. Radin was charged with “unlawful removal for cross-border transfer.” If convicted, Ms. Radin faces seven to 15 years in prison. If any of the victims were a minor, the term would be 15 to 20 years.
The government placed a ban on maids from Cambodia traveling to Malaysia in 2011 amid concerns of abuse and exploitation by both the local recruitment agencies sending them abroad and the households in which they were placed. Despite continuing concerns, the ban was lifted on January 1 after a directive was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late last year.
A separate statement released on Friday by the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced the return of three more trafficked maids from Malaysia and 23 men who had been caught working illegally at a construction site in Laos.