12-year-old housemaid suing ex-employers for torture goes missing

Photo: Flickr / Brad.K
Photo: Flickr / Brad.K

An underage housemaid who had been tortured by her employers and was in the middle of a lawsuit has disappeared while in Yangon to attend court, family members say.

The case involved the family of a retired lieutenant colonel who is being investigated for allegedly abusing the 12-year-old plaintiff. In one instance, the lieutenant colonel’s wife forced another housemaid to knock out six of the victim’s teeth with a pestle.

Last week, the girl had made her way to Yangon from her hometown of Myittha, located in the Mandalay Region. On July 3, she attended a hearing at the Mayangone Township Court, and with her grandmother, slept over at a monastery near the Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station. When her grandmother awoke the next morning, her granddaughter was nowhere to be found.

“Her grandmother was tired from the trip so she slept in until 9am. When she woke up, she couldn’t find her granddaughter. We’ve been searching for her for a week. We still haven’t found her,” the girl’s mother told The Voice yesterday.

According to an acquaintance who is helping out the family, the victim, her grandmother, and the other housemaid and her mother had all come to Yangon as a group to deal with the legal proceedings. Despite the two girls having lived and worked in Yangon since 2015, they are still largely unfamiliar with the city.

The two girls used to reside on the same street in Myit Tar, and both went to work at the lieutenant colonel’s house for a monthly salary of MMK50,000 each. When unsatisfied with their work however, the defendant and lieutenant colonel’s wife, Khin Nan Tint, would slap the girls in the face with her shoe, and beat their palms and calves with a stick.

Last December, the woman reportedly locked the girls inside a bathroom and urged one of them to break the other’s teeth out with a pestle. After the latter received treatment for the incident, she called the broker who had brought them to the house, and the two girls returned home to Myittha.

On January 3 of this year, the girls and their families made their way back to Yangon, went to the Mayangone Township Police Station, and filed a case against Hnin Wai Kyaw under Sections 114 (“Abettor present when offence is committed”), 325 (“Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt”), and 342 (“Punishment for wrongful confinement”) of the Myanmar Penal Code.

A missing persons report has been filed for the 12-year-old.

Last week, a couple who was being tried for abusing their 13-year-old housemaid was granted bail despite arguments from the plaintiff’s family and legal counsel. When police had rescued the young girl, she was covered in burns from where the couple had branded her with a clothing iron, as well as poured boiling water on her.

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