Author Alyaa Alhadjri
SPECIAL REPORT | They left home seeking a better future, lured by a dream to be free from the shackles of poverty, only to risk returning with nothing or little to show for the years spent abroad.
While a common tale among migrant workers, domestic workers are even more likely to find themselves vulnerable with little chance of escaping exploitative behaviour by irresponsible and occasionally cruel employers.
Even for those who escaped, migrant domestic workers who seek shelter in government, NGO or embassy-run facilities may find themselves at another crossroads - to choose between reclaiming their rights or leaving and starting anew back home.
It was slightly past 7pm on a Tuesday evening and a group of about a dozen women were sitting in two rows along a corridor.
Like every other night, they had just finished dinner, and their chatter whiled away time spent at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur's (KBRI) shelter.
Hidden out of sight from the bustling daily crowd of hundreds lining up to process their travel documents, the shelter comprises five bedrooms, a communal kitchen, shared bathroom, prayer room, laundry and since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic - a quarantine section for newcomers.
Women in Indonesian Embassy's shelter chatting after dinner
Following an assignment roster posted on the wall, residents in each bedroom take turns carrying out the daily cooking and cleaning tasks...