Six members of a family accused of severely abusing two young housemaids at their tailor shop in downtown Rangoon made their first court appearance today at the Western Yangon District Court in Lanmadaw Township.
The accused, from the Ava Tailors garment shop on 40th Street in Kyauktada Township, were taken to the courthouse in police custody. All six, including one member of the family who turned herself in to the police on Wednesday night, arrived in the same police vehicle.
In addition to reporters, a crowd of onlookers had gathered outside the courthouse to watch as the accused arrived.
The case has attracted widespread public attention, and has also prompted strong criticism of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, which was accused of inappropriately urging the victims’ families to accept compensation instead of pressing charges against the perpetrators.
The victims — San Kay Khine, now 17, and Thazin, now 16 — had been employed by the owners of the garment shop since 2012, but said they hadn’t been paid since 2014. They also accuse the family of inflicting severe physical abuse as punishment for minor mistakes in the workplace.
San Kay Khine claimed that she had all of her fingers and one arm broken for talking back to the family, and said they were often denied food and water.
The accused face charges under Articles 114, 325, 326 and 344 of the Penal Code for unlawful confinement and causing grievous bodily harm. They are also being charged under Articles 24 and 32 of the 2005 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law for offenses that carry penalties of 10 years to life in prison.
The case was filed at the Kyauktada Police Station. The Department of Social Welfare has also filed a case against the accused the Kyauktada Township court.