Ill-treatment and exploitation of human labour has been documented since time immemorial and is a testament to the perversity that humans will perpetuate on others in servitude (Privilege of employing live-in help comes with responsibility, by Mr Liew Chin Wen, Nov 20).
The people in Singapore treat their maids better than most, not because we are an innately more compassionate people, but simply because the rule of law is applied very stringently in their employment. Maids know there is fair protection from abuse, over and above preserved freedom of worship and respect for their cultural obligations here.
Cases of cruelty on either end of the maid-employer relationship will happen, no matter the amount of screening and training of maids, or compulsory education programmes for first-time employers.
Unsupervised and pressured maids in cramped quarters combined with financially crimped employers who badly need but are barely able to afford the services of live-in help make an unsustainable proposition.
Considering the number of homes that have maids, together with historical data on maid abuse, social workers should undertake collated research to fine-tune yet again the basic conditions for foreign maid employment, and whether amendments should be made to socio-economic criteria for employers, to minimise further cases of abuse.
Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)