Forum: Employers stricter now about granting maids freedom of movement

The treatment of Myanmar domestic worker Piang Ngaih Don by her employer was appalling: No one should be subjected to such callous behaviour.

Ms Piang did not have any days off and could not communicate freely with anyone outside her employers' flat.

If she had been able to do so, surely she would have sought advice and help, and be alive today.

In the past year, conditions have deteriorated somewhat for domestic workers as employers have been stricter about granting them freedom of movement for fear that even small gatherings and access to public spaces and services may risk contact with Covid-19.

Eighteen years ago, a similar case of the brutal treatment and killing of a domestic worker, Ms Muawanatul Chasanah, was a major stimulus to the foundation of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics and Transient Workers Count Too, and we pointed out then that having a day off and the ability to communicate freely would be crucial to giving domestic workers the ability to prevent or escape abusive treatment.

A weekly day off should be made a reality for all domestic workers, and not only a right that is easily taken or given away, whether for payment or not, at the whim or command of the employer.

Deborah D. Fordyce

President, Transient Workers Count Too

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