Pillow money, where maids are paid for extra services
What is the recent buzz about pillow money? Here in Singapore it means something completely different to what you probably think it is. Read on to find out the shocking truth about what pillow money means over here!
‘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’.
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 extra marital 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 or the maid can decide to end the relationship without the situation becoming extremely awkward for all involved.
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 get 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 defenseless kids.
Complications for the maid
If the maid agrees to receiving 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 a powerful hold on the employer’s family.
If a situation like this were to take place in an office it will be labelled 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.
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.
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.
If you know of any such incidents please do let us know by leaving a comment below!