Slavery & Abuse - Modern Day Realities for Maid

Topics: Domestic worker, Abuse, Bullying Pages: 6 (2326 words) Published: May 16, 2011

“At her death, the 19-year-old girl - who was 50 kg when she arrived in Singapore - weighed only 36 kg and had more than 200 injuries on her body.”(Lee, para. 3) The evolution of domestic workers in Singapore dates back to the mui tsai, migrant girls from China in the early 1890s who were the virtual slaves of the rich families. They worked from dawn to dusk and into the wee hours of the morning. However, the number of foreign domestic workers started to grow only in the 1970s, a result perhaps of the economic boom then, and the desire for more leisure. The number continued to rise rapidly. In 2005, there were more than 140,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore.(Chew, pg. 152) It may seem that maids working in a first world country like Singapore, has it easy off, compared to those working in second world countries, but there is a hidden claw that scars maids in this roaring Lion City. Some may say that maid abuse is not a widespread problem and that the irresponsible reporting of maid abuse by the local papers and television is the problem. On the other hand, others believe that maid abuse still remains a widespread problem.(Singaporean, para. 12) Singapore maids undergo the risk of being abused due to financial and educational circumstances for their family, leaving them with psychological effects during and after abusive treatment. Foreign Domestic Workers come to Singapore in search for a job, without the protection of the Singapore government, to get them out of a poverty stricken life they have back in their hometown. They earn money to be able to build a home and be able to afford a decent education and keep their children sufficiently fed and clothed. However, the cost of this may lead to a permanent psychological trauma caused by employers, which follows them for the rest of their lives after their contract is up, if they do not commit suicide. These abusers come from all walks of life: A school teacher had forced her maid to eat her own feces(Singaporean, para. 11), a father of two kicked and threw chairs at his maid(Singapore, para. 3), an air force staff sergeant tortured his sleep deprived maid by whipping her(Chong, para. 8), even children slap and hit their maids repeatedly to the encouragement of their parents(Rhonda, entry 5, para. 6). Something has to change.


Singapore for the past century has been a country growing in population and world status and recognition. Once an island of fishing village, and a British settlement, today Singapore is a republican country, which had undergone tremendous change. This is a result of the workforce Singapore has and its strategic location on the globe, being located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, making it an ideal destination to port ship between traveling between the Indian and Pacific Ocean, thus being a highly growing and expanding nation. With a huge amount of Singapore’s society holding jobs that requires long hours, they hire helpers, maids, to lighten their work load for the chores they have to do. In 2005, there were more than 140,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore(Chew, pg. 152), under the care of employers who hire these helpers from one of the 700 maid agencies in Singapore.(Chew, pg. 152) These employers may hold high paying jobs or high posts in the company they work for, but there is always a hidden side to people. In 1997, Singapore has reported 157 cases, 89 cases in 1998, 82 cases in 1999.(Sierakowski, pg. 133) it may seem that there is a downward trend with maid abuse cases of such in Singapore, however, there was 87 cases in 2000 and it has since been rising.(Chew, pg. 133) The cases of abusive behavior implicated upon the employer’s helper, usually happens behind closed doors of the employers resident: be it in their HDB’s (government funded Housing and Development Board in Singapore), landed properties, condominiums or private properties. The implications of such abusive inflictions on their...
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