Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Refugee voices - A vulnerable woman's life

Aliran News

It's not often we get to hear refugees speak for themselves about the circumstances that forced them to flee from their homeland and their plight in Malaysia. Here are stories from three refugees, edited only for spelling and punctuation.

I was working as a primary school teacher in a village in Burma near the border area of Thailand. Inevitably, to avoid the sexual harassment by the military soldiers, I fled to Thailand. I borrowed some money to pay agent fees from the head of village.

There, in Thailand, again, I was cheated by the agents, saying that I have to work as a house maid.

Actually, I have been sold to the massage centre to be a sex worker. As I bitterly refused to do the sex work and I have been kicked by the employer all night long. Due to my deep apology with tears, the agent had taken me to Malaysia to leave the sex worker work.

After reaching to Malaysia, I was sent to a restaurant to work as a dish washer. From morning 8.00am to night 11.00pm, I had to work - 15 hrs per day. Rather than a sex worker, I prefer to do any hard works.

But I got salary only RM 600 per month - without any day off. From my salary, RM100 pay for the police collected by the boss, RM100 for my food, RM100 for my room rent. With the remaining RM300, I had to send back to my country to pay my debt, till I clear my dues.

At work, I have to tackle smart, not to be sexual harassed by the boss and the male workers. I dare not wear pretty clothes and do my beauty, dare not apply lipstick and makeup, as our Burmese ladies used to do.

Actually, I am not so happy to stay like this. Sometimes, I miss my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters. I can only cry secretly, never let them know my troubles.

Without a proper document, daily, I have to avoid from the police and Relas. One day, before sending money, I have been caught by a police, and the money, to send home was bribed to police to be released..

When sleeping at night, I can't have sound sleep. The sound of horns or screaming voice interrupt my sleep. Along working hours already made me weak, this fear of police and Relas double me to get a heartache.

The worry to pay my debt also increases my blood pressure. I am full of stress and tension. If, I am sick who is taking care of me? No extra money in my hands.

Before resettling in third country, for temporary, I want to work in Malaysia, to pay my debt and for my survival. .I cannot go home at the moment. I pray for Malaysia government, Relas, immigration officers and the police to have mercy on us!

Please, only your help we need is o not arrest us.


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