Tackle issue of underage girls recruited as helpers

The increasing number of reports of underage girls recruited by employment agencies in Singapore is disconcerting (Entry of underage maids remains a thorny issue; July 3).

Such cases are discovered only after an incident happens, or when the maids are subsequently found out by employers.

When such a case is surfaced, the employer concerned has to go through much trouble to send the domestic worker home and do without a replacement, sometimes for months.

The underage domestic worker suffers too - she will have to deal with the financial hardship stemming from not being able to repay the debts she had incurred trying to get to Singapore to work.

Such lapses in recruitment is a clear contravention of the Manpower Ministry's policy on the minimum age requirement.

Besides penalising the employment agencies for recruiting underage girls, more needs to be done to address this matter.

The employment agencies and the authorities need to find a more effective way to verify the age of the domestic worker to prevent the recruitment of underage girls into Singapore.

Keeping the current recruitment procedure is not tenable, as the cases clearly show there is a gap in the recruitment process.

Seah Seng Choon

President

Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support & Training