Time for agencies to be responsible for maids' welfare also

Neither a jail term nor compensation can make up for the abuse suffered by domestic helper Than Than Soe, a Myanmar national, in the hands of her employer (Jail for woman who nearly blinded maid; Aug 30).

The sad part is that throughout the two years, none of the employer's family members seem to have stood up to address this gross misconduct. Ms Than Than Soe had to call the police herself to tell them of her ordeal.

The maid agency that brought her from Myanmar and introduced her to this family does not appear to have done anything either.

In the factory I worked in, foreign production workers were taken care of by the employment agency we contracted to supply them.

The agency was responsible for not only their welfare, but also ensured that the workers did not violate the laws of Singapore.

It had regular meetings with us to review the workers' performance and to make sure they were not abused or exploited.

If we had issues with a particular foreign worker, he would be taken away by the agency and a replacement would be sent. This was the best recourse, as we were not equipped to deal with problematic workers.

For many households in Singapore, maids are almost indispensable. Given the ageing population here, maids are needed to take care of not only household chores and young children but also the aged and the sick. Unfortunately, every year, we hear of maid-abuse cases that make our stomachs churn.

It is about time that the relevant ministry put in place a system that ensures the well-being of maids.

Such a system should be able to detect early signs of abuse and not just dispense justice after abuse is proven.

The system should also hold maid agencies accountable for the welfare of the maids they bring in until they leave the country. This will ensure that they do not leave maids to fend for themselves after being placed with families.

Liu Fook Thim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2018, with the headline 'Time for agencies to be responsible for maids' welfare also'. Print Edition | Subscribe