The number of domestic helper abuse cases in Singapore has been growing at an alarming rate and the governments of both employer and employees should start taking notice.
Only 14 maid abuse cases were filed in the State Courts in 2012 — that number has nearly doubled in 2014 with 26 cases, according to The Straits Times. Between 2015 and this year’s first nine months, there have been at least 19 reported cases.
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), a 24-hour helpline for maids launched in June 2013, has also been getting an increased volume of calls. In the group’s first few months of operations, there were less than 50 calls per month.
According to FAST executive director William Chew, more and more maids are calling out for a wide range of issues. Lately they have been receiving at least 180 calls per month.
While most of the calls are usually general inquiries, a huge percentage call to express their loneliness and difficulties adjusting. Chew said that for every one hundred calls, there is at least one actual domestic helper abuse.
One recent case involved a 31-year-old Filipino domestic helper who reportedly made her employers upset on January 20 last year for opening the refrigerator and microwave at night.
Her male boss grabbed the maid by her shirt and allegedly dragged her into a room. The man and his wife, took turns to hitting the maid by slapping her face, punching her stomach and chest. The wife even choked her neck with her two hands.
Injured and in pain, the maid was unable to get up and laid on the ground. The male employer then proceeded to stomp on her back.
For the assault, the wife was sentenced to a week in prison in January, while her husband was imprisoned for 14 weeks in February this year.
Shirley Ng, owner of maid agency Orange Employment told The New Paper that she believes domestic helper abuse cases must be resolved with actual justice.
“Maids are here working for a living, and such things should not be happening,” Ng said.
“Many of these cases happen because of a possible language barrier and they can’t communicate with their maid, or the maid doesn’t understand their unhappiness.”