Malaysian police investigated a couple on Monday for allegedly raping, beating and scalding their Indonesian maid in the latest such case that could strain ties between the neighboring countries.
Indonesia banned maids from going to Malaysia last year amid an outcry over a series of abuse cases by Malaysian employers. The two countries are still negotiating to ensure better protection for some 230,000 Indonesians who work as maids in Malaysia.
The 26-year-old maid from Sumatra was found wandering around a neighborhood in northern Penang state early last week and was hospitalized with "severe injuries," said Indonesian Embassy official Widyarka Ryananta.
The woman claimed her male employer sexually abused her since May, while his wife beat her when she refused, said Ryananta, who visited her in the hospital on Sunday. The woman was also allegedly beaten with a belt, and her back scalded with boiling water and her breasts with a hot iron, he said.
Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob said the employers have been in custody since Friday and were being investigated for rape, causing grievous injuries and human trafficking. Rape is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and caning, and trafficking with another 20 years.
The maid started to work for the family in February before they abandoned her, dropping her off in the neighborhood where she was found last week. It is unclear when she came to Malaysia, Ryananta said.
"We are disappointed that these cases (occur) again and again," she said. "The two countries now are aware that they have to protect the maids."
Indonesians account for the majority of Malaysia's foreign domestic workers. Indonesian officials say hundreds complain every year of mistreatment, overwork and unpaid salaries.
In July, a sugar cane juice seller was sentenced to death for murdering his Indonesian maid -- a rare conviction. The maid died last October after police found her beaten starved and locked in a bathroom in her employer's home.