Respect for maids must start at the agency

I am totally in support of more protection and support for maids, as advocated by Ms Tam Peck Hoon of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics ("Do more to protect, support maids"; Forum Online, April 20).

Employers who do not leave a house key with maids when they leave for work should consider the consequences if a fire should break out during their absence.

Some others I know do not let their maids have a minimum of eight hours of sleep and rest daily.

Maids do for us what we are unable to, as a result of work commitments; what we do not want to do; and, more often than not, what we do not have the energy to do, after a day's work.

Quite often, they are more skilful than us in household chores and, sometimes, in whipping up delicious meals.

Some can be very good with young children, too, as was the case with one of my previous helpers.

In the wake of calls to treat all professions with respect, let us remember to also treat our maids with greater respect.

No honest means of earning a living should be looked upon with disdain. Many of these workers are here so that they can support their families back home.

It does not call for a great deal from us to help them realise this wish.

I would venture to suggest that respect for maids should start at the maid agency level.

It is not uncommon to see maids being "herded" into an agency's open office and made to stand in a row or rows against a wall, sometimes for hours on end.

And when a prospective employer comes in to look for a maid, the condescending or contemptuous way some of the maid agency's staff call out to the maids and talk to them does little to boost their image and self-respect.

An employer is, hence, tempted to think that no matter how harshly he treats the maid, it is far better than how she had been treated at the agency and the maid should deem herself luckier than those still stuck there.

It is a very sad state of affairs which I hope can be rectified.

Granted, the agency has to establish a line of authority somewhere, but a little kindness can go a long, long way.

No one human being should deem himself superior to another.

Low Siew Hua (Ms)

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