Chief Editor Jurnal Perempuan (Indonesian Feminist Journal)
In July Chris Vogel wrote in Washingtonian, a monthly magazine distributed in Washington since 1965 focuses on feature journalism, politics and lifestyle. He wrote a specific concern on the appalling fate of two Indonesian migrant workers being enslaved in the house of Syrian-American woman, Farah Atassi. He narrated the fate of “Sinta”—under a pseudo name for protection. On 23 July Agatha Schamedick Tan contacted Jurnal Perempuan regarding the information on Sumaya who was back in Lombok and lost contact with her. Agatha’s work is focusing on domestic workers and labor trafficking for the Asia Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC). She is now helping bringing the case of Indonesian migrant workers under Atassi’s abuse to the court in Virginia. Agatha is looking for other evidence, which is the previous worker who was also being abused and enslaved by Atassi. Her name is Sumaya—was another worker who was trafficked before her client and overlapped with her client briefly in the U.S. This other victim, Sumaya, went back to Lombok a few years ago and Agatha is trying to find her to get a witness statement. So, in a nutshell, she is asking for help trying to find someone in Lombok. It might sound like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but it is very important for justice to prevail, reported Agatha. Jurnal Perempuan then tried to identify and locate women's organization or advocate in Lombok who might be able to help with this and still in process.
Agatha emailed us as follows: “her name is Sumaya/ Sumaiyah (last name unknown). She has two grown children, one of whom is named Erwan. Her husband left her many years ago and she does not know if he is dead or alive, remarried or what. Sumaya is in her late 40's or early 50's by now. Sumaya has long black hair and fairly pale skin. She's is average build for an Indonesian woman, not fat or super thin. Sumaya has lived in Lombok most of her life, but she worked in the United States for the better part of seven years, from approximately—the entire time as a pembantu (domestic worker) in the Washington DC/ Northern Virginia area for the employer Ms. Farah Atassi (a Syrian-American woman). Sumaya worked for Ms. Atassi as a nanny/babysitter for Ms. Atassi's two kids Ayah & Hadi, and also as a cook for Ms. Atassi's business in DC, a restaurant called Zenobia Lounge. Sumaya first came to the U.S. in approximately 2004 via an Indonesian-Egyptian recruiter Nura Ziadeh, known as Ibu "Nuroh" or "Nuris." Nura Ziadeh has a home base in both Surabaya and Jakarta, and she is known for having recruited and trafficked many Indonesian to the U.S. Indeed, Nura Ziadeh is now in jail in the United States for having trafficked so many Indonesian women to the U.S. After working in the U.S. for Farah Atassi two years (2004-2006) Sumaya went back to Lombok. Soon after returning home to Lombok in 2006, Farah Atassi called Sumaya directly and begged her to come back and work again in America. Farah Atassi promised Sumaya a salary of $1000 USD/ month. Sumaya then returned to the U.S. and continued working for Farah Atassi for many years, until August 2011 when my client, “Sinta”, was recruited (also by Nura Ziadeh) to replace her. When “Sinta” met Sumaya at the Atassi home in Vienna, Virginia, Sumaya was not well. Sumaya was exhausted and suffering from a lot of backaches and other body pain from too many years of working long hours—she was forced to work largely without break from 2006 to 2011. To make matters worse, Farah Atassi had not paid Sumaya for most of the time she was working there. Farah Atassi kept promising that she would pay her "when it was time to go home." In 2011 when it was time for Sumaya to go and “Sinta” to start, Sumaya was told that she was only going to be paid $500 USD/ month for her many years of dedciated service. Farah Atassi finally allowed Sumaya to return home to Lombok in September, 2011. “Sinta” has tried calling Sumaya via her son's (Erwan's) cell phone since then, but it seems the phone number is no longer in service”.
Agatha is now in process of litigating this case. Indonesian domestic worker who was trafficked to America and elsewhere (mainly to Middle East and Malaysia) and forced to work largely without pay are abundant, ubiquitous and most of the time invisible. Agatha, Jurnal Perempuan and other three Sahabat Jurnal Perempuan (Friend of Jurnal Perempuan) in Lombok are now trying very hard to look for Sumaya—in order to bring justice for both Sumaya dan “Sinta” for the abuse they suffered at the hands of Farah Atassi. Dian Aryani (Yayasan Tunas Alam Indonesia), Yuni Riawati (Jaringan Masyarakat Sipil Lombok Barat) and Ririn Hayudiani (Lembaga Pengembangan Sumber Daya Mitra) have been for several days trying to locate Sumaya but in vain. Any readers please kindly assist us in locating Sumaya in Lombok. Any suffered migrants workers abroad being enslaved would love nothing more than to bring justice to both.
Dewan Redaksi JP, Redaksi JP, pemerhati masalah perempuan
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