An Indonesian maid accused her former employer of subjecting her to a horrifying campaign of abuse and “torture” on Monday on the first day of a high-profile trial in Hong Kong.
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih says she was “tortured” by employer Law Wan-tung for eight months last year.
The case of Erwiana drew global attention in January when she returned to Indonesia in a critical condition and was admitted to hospital.
Erwiana, 23, described multiple instances of beatings and brutal assaults to the Hong Kong court on Monday.
“I was tortured,” she said, adding that Ms Law did not give her enough food.
She told the court that at one point her employer had put a vacuum cleaner tube into her mouth and twisted it, injuring her lips.
Prosecutors accused Ms Law of using a mop, stick, ruler and hanger to assault Ms Erwiana, the South China Morning Post reported.
Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced her treatment as torture.
Sulistyaningsih’s employer, Law Wan-tung, a former beautician, faces 20 charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault, and criminal intimidation.
Maids are paid a minimum wage equivalent to about $520, an attractive sum for women fleeing poverty elsewhere in Asia.
Hong Kong, a former British territory that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has about 300,000 foreign domestic helpers, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia.
In April, Time magazine ranked Sulistyaningsih among its 100 Most Influential People, alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin and U.S. singer Beyonce.