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Nirmala Bonat

Indonesia , Class of 2008

Nirmala Bonat

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A domestic worker from Indonesia, Nirmala Bonat suffered at the hands of her employers, until she brought them to court.

She was brutally beaten, severely burned with an iron, had boiling water thrown on her, and mistreated in a multitude of other ways for five months. She came to Malaysia, as so many have done, in order to seek work as a domestic servant in the house of a Malaysian couple. She brought them to court over the abuse that they inflicted in 2004, and fought tirelessly for four years to bring them to justice. She was forced to stay in Malaysia in order to continue proceedings, sheltered by the Indonesian embassy, and frequently faced difficulties and hardships, such as humiliating court proceedings, and yet she did not budge. As was noted in the TIP Report of 2008, she has become an inspiration to other trafficking victims who want to pursue justice against those who have harmed them. She was just 19 when she arrived in Malaysia. In 2008, she was given a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero Award in recognition of her efforts to fight back against people who enslave. In November of that same year, her employer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, later shortened to 12. Ms. Bonat filed a civil suit in 2010, and won that case in November of 2014.

In the 2014 TIP Report, Indonesia was listed as a Tier 2 Country. Indonesia is a source country, primarily, although it also is a destination and transit country. Indonesians are found all over the world in forced and bonded labor situations. There are an estimated 6.5 million Indonesians who are migrant workers abroad. Although the government has made substantial efforts to comply, there is more to be done.

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