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Abusive Employers Cause Chaos For Myanmar Maids in Singapore

Published on Tuesday, 23 February 2016

There’s a growing problem right now amidst maids and their employers. Myanmar maids are facing hard decisions in regards to the abuse that they are receiving. For many, the abuse causes a great deal of strain on their livelihood, and the decision to fight back is often stifled by investigations. The investigations can take on a lot of time, and reliving the pain can be rough. For many maids, the better choice is to go home rather than try and seek justice for the issues that they are facing.
Battered and Bruised Maids
The story is not uncommon, there are many maids that face hardships associated with abuse. One such story is that of Ma Ei Phyu Tun, whom was abused by her employer to the point of hospitalization. The 23 year old decided to pursue the opportunity of being a maid, circumventing agency processes, and found herself beaten and bruised before she lodged complaint. She eventually reported the issue, but the abuse had set in and the mental strain is not so easy to let go. Her story isn’t uncommon, but things could be worse. In recent months’ foreign domestic workers have been abused, both mentally and sexually, and in some instances, death occurs.
The Problem With Complaints
The easiest route to go down would be to complain, right? The problem here is that filing complaints from domestic workers causes strain. In order to do this, a maid would need to stay in Singapore while the investigation is made, and that causes a great deal of stress. Finances can be strained while justice is sought, and making a living becomes very difficult as a result. How long could investigations get? Well, in some instances, it’s not unusual to have to wait for 2 years for court to settle cases. That’s far too long to stay in a shelter or try to make a living out of another career path.
The Numbers Are Slim
The Ministry of Manpower is aware of complaints. One spokeswoman stated that the complaints versus the amount of labor in the work force only accounted for 1%. With only 1% filing complaints, the numbers don’t seem to showcase huge issues. Even though the official numbers seem low, recent reports suggest that an influx of thousands of maids from Myanmar is posing issue. On average, these maids are more likely to get abused, are younger, and do not make nearly as much as their Indonesian and Filipino counterparts.
The workflow right now is not handled by any major system, so the thousands coming over to work are at risk of mistreatment, without recourse. Agreements need to be made, but none are in place yet between Singapore and Myanmar.

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