She wasn’t mistreated. Neither was she abused. But 27-year-old maid Rindu from Indonesia could no longer stand to be with her Singaporean employers. So she escaped the only way she knew how—by climbing down a garbage chute.
Falling on top of a garbage heap, Rindu broke her hip and fractured her leg and now has eight rings attached to her spine to hold it in place and brace around her waist.
“I regret jumping,” she said, “but I didn’t know what else to do. I was really afraid of what my employer was going to do to me.”
At first her relationship with her employers was a amicable, taking her out at least thrice for family gatherings and once to the hairdresser. They even mentored her on how to take care of the house.
A month into her job, however, things began to change. They started berating her for the smallest of things, criticizing her for how she did her chores.
Her employers allegedly told her that she was getting lazy and didn’t do her job well, and they scolded her in front of others. Rindu would often go to a room and could not leave it for fear of angering them.
“I don’t know what changed. I’d been doing everything the same,” she said.
The last straw was when her employer dumped a bucket of hot water on her hands as she washed the dishes. “I felt scared. I think she did it on purpose though she said ‘sorry’ and walked away.”
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Because the main doors were electronically bolted and the keys had been taken away from her, the garbage chute was her only exit point. At 6AM the next day, when the sky was still dark, she climbed into the garbage chute and jumped.
Rindu’s agent Gan Ngin Hwa said that he first received a request for a transfer in early November. “The new maid was actually coming in a week’s time,” he said. “If she had waited another week, she would not have been injured.”
Domestic helpers like Rindu face similar treatment from their employers, sometimes even worse. Just because they are paid for their work does not mean they deserve to be maltreated.
There is no such thing as a perfect employer, but in order to be a good one requires compassion above all else, the recognition that domestic helpers are human beings who deserve respect and consideration and kindness.
What about you, mums? When was the last time you did something nice for your household help?
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