A Singaporean husband and wife were jailed for starving their maid, in yet another case of maid abuse. Why are maids being treated wrongly?
A Singaporean couple has been sentenced to jail, in yet another instance of maid abuse here.
Maid starved by employers
According to The Straits Times, husband-wife couple Lim Choon Hong and Chong Sui Foon were found guilty of a long list of offences:
- Their Filipino maid Thelma Oyasan Gawidan was given only 2 meals a day, mostly comprising bread and instant noodles. The rest of the family, however, ate different food, much higher in nutritional value. Apparently, within 15 months, the maid lost about 20 kilos!
- It gets worse, the maid even had to ask for permission before drinking water! According to Today, due to these conditions, she lost up to 40 % of her body mass, stopped menstruating, and suffered severe hair fall.
- Thelma was also forbidden from using the toilets at home. Instead she had to make do with the one for visitors at the condominium.
- She was also allowed a bath only once or twice a week, with Ms. Chong watching over her inside the toilet!
According to Today, the maid eventually ran away and found shelter in an NGO called Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, which reported the ill treatment meted out to her to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Singaporean husband and wife jailed
According to The Straits Times, on March 27, freelance trader Lim Choon Hong, was sentenced to three weeks of jail and fined $10,000. Wife Chong Sui Foon has been jailed for three months.
According to Today, Ms Jeanette Har, director of the well-being department at MOM’s foreign manpower management division, has said in a statement that, “The conduct of Lim and his wife is reprehensible, and MOM will prosecute individuals who fail to safeguard the well-being of the worker. We are glad that Thelma’s physical condition has improved and she is now working for a new employer.”
The New Paper reports that the MOM’s statement mentions that, this couple have been permanently barred from employing maids.
The MOM also reminds us to report any maid abuse that we come across to email@example.com or call 6438 5122.
Treating our maids right
This is hardly the first time that ill treatment of maids has made news in Singapore. And its quite unfortunate that even today, some employers treat their maids like ‘slaves’. It is important to make sure that we maintain the dignity of an employer-employee relationship, while dealing with our maids. These tips might help:
- Food, water and shelter: According to the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, employers must pay and provide adequate food and medical treatment for their domestic helpers.
Ensure that your maid is healthy, and has enough sleep and energy for all her tasks. Sit with her, and make sure she’s comfortable with the tasks at hand. Discuss on a timetable that you can follow daily.
- Communication and training : Wherever possible, write down specific instructions to be followed, and put it up on the wall, or on the fridge. You might even want to take some time off work to train your maid in the initial days, until she gets used to your home environment. Teach her how exactly to take care of your child or your elderly parents.
- Lay out the rules : Right from the beginning, your maid should be aware of the house rules. Be specific about house rules, such as work that needs to be completed everyday, use of handphone etc.
- Be human: Never abuse your maid, be it physically or verbally. It is inhuman and against the law. Practise dignity of labour. Make her feel comfortable and treat her like family.
- Empathise with your maid: Understand that she was not ‘born a maid‘. She too has a family back home. She has come to a foreign country to work, just so that she can provide for her family, and fulfil their dreams and aspirations. Be kind. An unhappy maid will never be able to do good work.
- Give constructive feedback : If you are not happy with your maid’s work, instruct her without scolding. She is human after all. Treat her with dignity and respect, for she is helping you do work that you yourself are unable to cope up with. Praise her for good work and behaviour. It will spur her to do better.
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