Jolovan Wham, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) worker and human rights activist, posted on his Facebook on Wednesday evening (17 August) a photo of papers on which a domestic worker had to write several hundred times for each line ordered by the employer.
Jolovan Wham repeated the lines on his Facebook :
- “I will always remember to say and do all the things I need to say and do without Sir Victor asking”
- “I will always check the handphone when it rings”
- “I will always make sure the phone’s batteries are working”
- “I must always listen carefully”
- “I will always think very carefully and deeply”
The domestic worker had to write each of these lines several hundred times.
Mr Wham asked on his Facebook, “Have you been punished in this way before? What are some of the ways employers punish? Do share your experiences”.
Response to the employer’s punishment for the domestic workers was expectedly negative in the comments section.
A year ago, Jolovan Wham posted a letter which was written by a migrant domestic worker sent to PM Lee about her profession, an excerpt of what she wrote is copied below.
I know not all employers are bad and there are many with a kind heart and treat domestic workers well. But there is too much discrimination against domestic workers.
If employers treat us well, domestic workers will their duty well to serve the employer and the family members. But we are workers, not slaves. We are workers, not money for the agents.
Domestic workers have made many contributions to your country Mr Lee. Can you imagine if Singapore does not have domestic workers?
I can’t do much to help my other fellow domestic workers but at least with this letter, you will know the main problems facing domestic workers. Sometimes, when domestic workers complain about their problems at MOM, there is not much that MOM can do
Just last month, two Singaporeans were accused of killing their Burmese domestic worker, who was said to be in actual fact underaged by sources.
TOC also has reported how a domestic worker was starved to the point where she weighed only 29 kilograms (64 pounds). The domestic worker from the Philippines, says she endured more than a year of subsisting on instant noodles and bread, long hour works, sometimes exceeding 24 hours at a time – and humiliated, such as being forbidden from bathing or brushing her teeth regularly.
As TOC has reported before, it’s time for Singapore to include domestic workers under its main labour code, ensure restitution to those who suffer abuse, strengthen relationships with migrant domestic workers’ organizations, and implement strict enforcement of penalties for the abuse on migrant workers.