Seven--that’s the number of Indonesian domestic workers who fell to their deaths this year alone. This shocking statistic has prompted a migrant workers group to call for a complete ban on maids cleaning the outside of windows.
On 19th April, an Indonesian maid fell to her death from a the fifth floor of a HDB flat in Punggol. She was believed to have fallen while cleaning the windows. This tragic incident marked the seventh death so far in just four months. Her employer was quoted as saying that she did not notice anything unusual about the maid and had stressed to the maid the importance of safety when cleaning windows.
This last incident has triggered something of a public outcry, especially among members of the civil society. The Singapore based Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) is calling for a complete ban on maids cleaning the outside of windows. HOME is aiming to collect 300 individually written letters and send them to the Ministry of Manpower. HOME President Bridget Tan told reporters that the letters were meant to show that the group was “serious about solving the problem”.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Madam Halimah Yacob, called for employers to stop their domestic workers from opening window grilles.
Only Indonesian maids?
Bridget Tan noted that all the seven who passed away this year were Indonesians and added that maids from Indonesia tend to be quieter and more timid than others. Ristanti Ningrum, an Indonesian maid, said that a friend of hers did not dare to let her employer know about her fear of heights, despite being expected to clean the outside of windows on the 15th storey.
Ningrum commented that it was easier to communicate with younger employers, but older ones did not tolerate disagreement and expected instructions to be followed.