Pregnant maids deserve respect and dignity, too

It is unfortunate that domestic helpers often panic when they find out they are pregnant, due to the risk of losing their jobs ("Maids fear losing job when they get pregnant"; last Thursday).

One of the conditions for a work permit is not getting pregnant or delivering a child here, unless the worker is married to a Singaporean or permanent resident. Foreigners may sometimes be driven to having abortions as a result of this.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health show that almost a quarter - or around 2,000 - of the 8,515 abortions last year were performed on foreigners ("Abortions last year lowest in 30 years"; May 5).

This is an increase from 2004, when the figure was 1,774 out of 12,070 abortions.

However, I was very encouraged by the story of Mr Luke Wong and his wife, who let their domestic helper, Ms Arik, stay on in their home to rest during her pregnancy ("Baby conceived during maid's home leave"; last Thursday).

Foreigners in our midst should not be regarded merely in terms of their economic or domestic contributions, but as human beings of equal worth and dignity. There is no need to place any woman in the difficult position of choosing between her job and motherhood.

We can build a compassionate society that enables all people to contribute effectively in their own unique ways.

Thus, I hope that more employers in Singapore can accord their domestic helpers the same level of trust and respect as that between the Wongs and Ms Arik.

Darius Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Pregnant maids deserve respect and dignity, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe