Tuesday, November 13, 2007


My Burmese friend (whose family left Burma many years ago), Jessica, has recently moved from Tokyo to Singapore. She was in London last week and was telling me about the appalling living conditions of many of the maids there. The Singapore Government has strict rules about maids. Each maid must belong to one household (no sharing is allowed) and must have a monthly health check-up. If a maid is found to be pregnant, her work permit is cancelled and she is forced to return to her home country (usually Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines). For this reason, many employers refuse to let their maids out of the house in the evenings. There are often stories of physical abuse. Jessica's neighbour refuses to allow the maid to use the washing machine in order to save electricity and she is often seen beating sheets at the back of the house in the early hours of the morning. The same neighbour counts the slices of bread in the open packet and if one is missing, she knocks it off the maid's pay. Jessica's husband is Balinese and their maid comes from his village in Bali and loves their 4 year old daughter, the darling Grace. Jessica has told her that she may give extra food to the maid next door but on no account to be discovered so doing. She also said that she believes that thousands of monks have been killed in Burma.


Anonymous Ellee said...

What a sad story, it sounds like another era totally, not just another country. I heard a lovely Burmese girl speak yesterday about the atrocities in her country, she is part of an activist group in the UK.

Only two days to go, looking forward to meeting you.

5:20 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Looking forward to meeting you too, Ellee

6:47 pm  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

How awful - and in a "modern" country too. This post makes me count my blessings, WW.

8:30 pm  
Blogger toby said...

...and modern slavery also exists in England. But most people choose not to see it.

9:35 pm  

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