Whistle-Blower Maid Exposes Maid Agency’s Ill-Treatment of Foreign Domestic Workers

A disgruntled maid has blown the whistle on a maid agency, throwing the plight of Singapore’s foreign domestic workers in the spotlight once again.

The maid shared this photo with Jolovan Wham, head honcho of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).

Said Wham:

“This employment agency charges $15 a day while the domestic workers wait to be deployed to their employers. According to the worker who sent it to me, they had to sleep in the kitchen and were only given rice to eat. They were also barred from using mobile phones. She had to take this photograph secretly and hide her phone.”

Going public, Wham slammed Singapore’s Manpower Ministry for not providing a detailed framework regarding the treatment of blue-collar foreign workers in Singapore.

“Such poor treatment is not uncommon since Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower employment agency licencing conditions do not set clear and detailed standards on how domestic workers should be treated. It only says that agencies are responsible for “upkeep and maintenance” “provision of food” and “acceptable accommodation”. Patchy and inconsistent enforcement is a likely outcome of such vagueness. Therefore, whether or not this agency will be penalised is uncertain.

There are also no policies to protect whistle blowers. If complaints are filed, the women might lose their jobs. Even with the intervention of NGOs like HOME: Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, under reporting is a huge problem due to a lack of incentives to name perpetrators. This results in unethical agencies getting away scot free.

During audit operations, the Ministry is also known to inform agencies in advance that checks will be done on their premises, giving them ample time to cover up their misdeeds. Such poor enforcement practices is one of the reasons migrant workers continue to be enslaved.”

The recent death of a Myanmar maid shocked has shocked Singapore.

This, after her personal notes revealed that she had been underfed and overworked by her employer.

Mar Zin Mar Oo, who committed suicide in July said she did so because of abusive labour conditions.


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