Tortured domestic worker Erwiana graduates cum laude from university

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih graduates cum laude from Sanata Dharma University, four years after sustaining serious injuries inflicted upon her by an abusive employer. Photo via Facebook: Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

In a heartwarming addendum to a story that sparked international outrage, an Indonesian domestic worker who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her employer four years ago has graduated with top honours from university.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih graduated cum laude from Sanata Dharma University with a degree in business management on Friday. Local media picked up on the news last night.

In a Facebook post from Friday, Sulistyaningsih wrote that she was able to pursue her degree thanks to a scholarship by the university.

In the post, she thanked God, the university, friends, family, and a number of migrant worker organizations, and pledged to use her degree to help others.

“God willing I will dedicate my time for the people, and I will continue helping in the collective struggles of those who are oppressed,” she said.

Sulistyaningsih’s nightmare began in 2013 when took up a job as a domestic worker in Hong Kong to earn money to pay for university tuition.

At the hands of her employer, Law Wan-tung, she suffered abuse including being fed nothing but bread and rice, sleeping only four hours a day, not being given a day off, and being beaten so badly that she was knocked unconscious.

Her plight sparked international outrage in 2014 after she was admitted to hospital in Indonesia in a critical condition, and pictures of her injuries were made public.

She became the face of a movement determined to force change for working conditions for Hong Kong’s domestic workers.

Sulistyaningsih’s employer Law Wan-tung was convicted of grievous bodily harm, assault, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages in 2015.

Law was sentenced to six years in jail, and was ordered to pay around HK$809,000 (US$103,000) in damages for the “inhumane” abuse, which lasted for eight months.

This story originally appeared in Coconuts Hong Kong.

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