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May 10, 2010 
Nurfika Osman

A foreign laborer working in Taiwan holding a ladle joins a rally asking the 
Taiwanese government to legislate legal protection. Three Muslims from 
Indonesia were "distraught and afraid" after their boss at a suburban Taipei 
factory forced them to eat pork over a seven-month period or face punishment, a 
Taiwan rights group said Monday. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File)

Pork-Fed Indonesian Migrants Left With Bitter Taste in Taiwan

The National Commission on Human Rights on Monday expressed anger over a report 
that three Indonesian Muslim women working in Taiwan had been force-fed pork by 
their employer.

"This goes against basic human rights, which include the right to freedom of 
worship," commissioner Johny Nelson Simanjuntak told the Jakarta Globe. "How 
dare anyone force others to eat food they are prohibited from eating? They 
should be punished and made to apologize."

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the three women were "distraught 
and afraid'' after their boss at a Taipei factory forced them to eat pork over 
a seven-month period or face punishment.

Taipei prosecutors on April 26 indicted Chang Wen-lin, the owner of Shin Hua 
Hang Fashion Co. Ltd., for forcing the three women to consume pork during their 
September 2008 to April 2009 employment.

In their indictment, prosecutors said Chang believed it "would give the women 
more stamina for work" and threatened to dock their pay if they did not eat it.

Islam forbids its adherents from consuming pork because it regards pigs as 

Susan Chen of the Taiwan International Workers Association said her 
organization cared for the three women beginning in April 2009 after they filed 
a complaint with Taipei county authorities and were removed from the factory by 
labor rights officials.

"They were distraught and afraid when they came to our shelter, partly because 
they thought they might be sent home,'' Chen said. "They still showed a lot of 
fear when they met their employer again for the first time after their rescue 
during a meeting to discuss employment disputes.''

Chen identified the women as Tarsinah, Suswati and Wasilah. She said they were 
now working at new jobs in Taiwan and did not want to comment on the case 
because they feared it could endanger their employment.

Chen said Chang initially hired the women as caregivers, but then ordered them 
to work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at his factory once they were in 
Taiwan. She said they were paid 1,370 Taiwan dollars ($42) a month - far less 
than the 17,000 Taiwan dollar minimum wage.

Manpower and Transmigration Ministry spokesman Budy Hartawan told the Globe the 
ministry would seek clarification from the Indonesian Economic and Trade 
Chamber in Taipei.

"We are going to ask them to protect our citizens," he said, adding the case 
was unprecedented.

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