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She Came to US to Work for a Diplomat. It Was a Nightmare

Inside one domestic worker's allegations
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2021 4:20 PM CDT
She Was an Alleged Victim of Diplomatic Trafficking—in LA
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – It was a chance meeting at a gas station that can only be described as incredible: Sri Yatun had been living in Los Angeles where she worked as the housekeeper, cook, and nanny for an Indonesian consular official and her husband. What she had been promised when she left her native Indonesia with them—$400 for 40 hours of work per week—never transpired. Instead, Sri alleges consul Cicilia Rusdiharini and her husband would occasionally toss her $50 or $100 a month for nearly nonstop work; the husband was verbally abusive. She spoke little English and had been warned by the couple that America was a cesspool of criminals who wouldn't hesitate to snatch her if she left their home. But she finally did. After finding the passport that had been hidden from her for three years, she fled to that gas station in July 2007.

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In a lengthy story for the Washington Post, Noy Thrupkaew details what happened next. Sri had been wandering around Los Angeles. She was hungry and crying. An Asian woman approached her. Sri couldn't understand what she said to her in English. The woman then asked if she was Filipina? Thai? Indonesian? That last question caused Sri to cry. It turned out the woman was Indonesian as well. That chance meeting was the start of Sri's path out, which Thrupkaew details. But the full piece goes much deeper into the world of A-3 visas for domestic workers brought to the US and the abuse these workers can suffer, with Thrupkaew recounting other cases and the steps the US government can take when abuse occurs—"yet it’s far from clear how often these measures are taken." (Read her full piece to learn what happened to Sri.)

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