Does it take legislation for us to be humane?

While I applaud the opinion piece on domestic helpers (Draw up a list of chores that maids shouldn't have to do; March 30), it pains me that this commentary has even to be written.

A substantial number of people living in Singapore seem to require legislation before they will carry out plain acts of human decency.

While the report is anecdotal regarding domestic helpers who additionally perform non-household-related tasks, this and reported cases of maid abuse in recent years suggest that many employers and their families do not recognise the member living in their home as a person.

This is frightening, especially for the rest of us who stand by and allow the abuse to continue.

It is heartening to know that there are more avenues for domestic workers to receive emotional and legal support.

Nevertheless, I believe it comes down to us as individuals to voice out gently to a fellow parent, friend or relative, that the woman at home deserves rest and respect, if something does not seem right.

Previously, I wrote to The Straits Times because I was appalled that a high number of employers were unwilling to give their helpers a day off (Don't undermine maids' ability to think for themselves; Dec 29, 2013).

The day off is now mandatory.

However, it is disturbing that collectively, we have not progressed much in our humanity in the last three years.

Tay Tuan Leng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'Does it take legislation for us to be humane?'. Print Edition | Subscribe