Six Vietnamese women were forced to work with dead bodies in Taiwan under the threat of repatriation after they migrated to work as caregivers, Taiwanese media has reported.
The women were forced by a couple who owned a funeral parlor to rinse dead bodies, dig graves and sort the bones of long-dead people for five months, with pay rates of only US$1.55 an hour each, the China Post reported Wednesday.
Lin Hung-kun, 45, and his wife Wu Ching-hui, 43, were accused of human trafficking on Tuesday. They were sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment. Each was also given a three-year suspended sentance and fined US$8,620. Aside from trafficking, they were punished for "forcing people into work that is not commensurate with the pay."
The Vietnamese women had been officially employed as caregivers at three senior homes owned by the couple since 2008. To save money, they told the women to work at the funeral parlor or face deportation.
From April through September 2009, the six worked on and off at the funeral parlor or in hospital morgues by day, and regularly at the senior homes by night.
Lin first showed the women how to prepare a dead body -- rinsing, dressing, encoffining -- and told the women to take over.
The women said that they had been having nightmares since they begun the job. One said she even passed out seeing the dead bodies.
But as their passports were kept by the Taiwanese man and they still owed more than $5,000 to their labor brokers, the Vietnamese women had complied until the police were tipped off to the case in September 2009.
The Taiwanese couple first claimed that the women had volunteered to help in order to earn overtime pay. But later, when they stood trial, they said the Vietnamese were only told to "carry things and wash towels."
But the six Vietnamese were unanimous in their accusations against Lin, claiming that they were forced to work.
One of them said Lin forced her to dig up some buried remains at a local graveyard, and pick up and sort the bones, the report said.