‘Pillow money’ is a common term seen in some Japanese travel guide books and refers to the cash tip hotel guests leave chambermaids on the pillow as a token of appreciation. But in Singapore, this has allegedly taken a new and seedy twist especially with maids employed by expat families.
What Pillow Money Means in Singapore
Recently there’s been talk online about men paying their foreign domestic helpers ‘pillow money’ to have sex with them. It is believed some also pay their FDWs ‘hush money’ to keep their sexual relationship a secret, especially from their wives. Another name for it is ‘headache money’.
In Singapore pillow money refers to the money maids are paid to have sex with their employer or keep the affair a secret.
Quite shockingly we even discovered some instances of wives instigating the deal! – probably to evade their responsibility of having sex with their own husband? As ridiculous and outrageous as it sounds, it seems to really be happening in Singapore.
For starters, having an extramarital affair is tricky business – whoever you have it with. There are many ways things could get complicated for all the people involved.
Possible complications for the husband
The obvious complication is getting found out and of course, neither the husband nor the maid can decide to end the relationship without the situation becoming extremely awkward for all involved.
Trying and engaging an FDW to have sex will not end well for all parties concerned!
Complications for the wife
It would be heartbreaking for the wife if this has happened behind her back. However, In cases where the wife instigated the husband-maid affair, she very well have a change of heart and gets jealous. She could end up regretting the arrangement. But by then, it could just be too late to salvage her marriage.
Complications for the children
If either parent enters an ‘agreement’ like this with the FDW, it is obvious they haven’t got their priorities straight. The kids who get caught in the middle of a situation like this could be badly affected.
They risk losing their happy home, and worse – once things go wrong between the adults, a dejected FDW could be a serious hazard to the defenceless kids.
Complications for the maid
If the maid agrees to receive pillow money willingly, she could have her contract terminated and also be sent back to her country if the arrangement is discovered.
Some fresh and innocent FDWs may not know their rights and are scared they would lose their jobs if they don’t go along with their employer’s indecent proposal. Other, usually more experienced and worldly maids, appear happy with the arrangement as it usually means extra money and powerful hold on the employer’s family.
If a situation like this were to take place in an office it will be labelled as sexual harassment and there are clear-cut ways to deal with it and take it to the authorities. Unfortunately, maids often do not feel empowered to complain to the authorities.
Some fresh maids are innocent and eager to please.
Keep reading to find out what can be done in a situation like this..
What can be done
In the unlikely event that you suspect a situation like this is taking place in either your home or a friend’s or a relative’s home there are a few steps you could take.
- Be sure that what you suspect is really happening. Accusing an innocent maid, or worse – your own husband or friend could lead to unwanted issues,
- You could try talking to your friend or relative,
- If the maid looks harassed or scared, try and talk to her alone,
- If all else fails you could contact the Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) and make a complaint.
Kids who get caught in the middle of a situation like this are the most affected!
Our investigations indicate that pillow money exchange appears to be limited to certain sections of the expat community and is still thankfully rare. Unfortunately, it does appear to really be happening in Singapore under a veil of secrecy, although some men have been openly “bragging” about it on online forums and in pubs.
Dealing with maid’s lover
Your maid has as much right to social life as anyone else. But sometimes the equilibrium of the family as a unit gets upset, in the event that things go wrong, as in this case.
Here are some things that you might want to advise your maid, when it comes to her love life:
- To never bring her lover home. Your baby’s safety is of paramount importance. So you must advise your maid to never mix work and pleasure.
- Layout your rules and regulations. Be clear at the very onset about how much time you will give her to use her phone. Or, when you will allow her to socialise etc.
- Be careful when choosing lovers. To keep away from people with shabby backgrounds, who might be abusive, or even instigate the maid to steal from or assault the employer!
- Dissuade her from divulging her bank account details. There have been cases of men pretending to be lovers. They do this to take advantage of the maid’s cash and possessions. So she might do well to keep her bank balance a secret.
- To never take the baby out to meet her lover. One of my friends was shocked to come home early one day, only to find her baby and the maid missing. It later emerged that the maid had taken the baby with her when she went to meet her lover in the car park nearby.
- To never allow access to phone and social media. This case is a classic example of what can go wrong when one gives access to private accounts to lovers.
- To never let her lover take hot pics. One must be wary of the power of a cellphone. Ask her to never send any nude images of herself, no matter how much her lover asks for them. Nor should she allow him to take hot pics or videos of hers. A moment of vengeance can wreak havoc on many a life.
If you know of any such incidents please do let us know by leaving a comment below!