Thursday, 3 July 2014

Buy a discount maid at Singapore's malls

In Singapore, maids are put on display and made available for 'purchase' in central shopping malls

Go to the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, a 1970s mall in central Singapore, and you will find five levels of brightly lit rooms and galleries called "Homekeeper" and "Budget Maid". Inside these rooms, dozens of women sit in a listless, artificial silence. They nod respectfully as you enter, and some watch closely as you speak to staff. You might take one home with you - for two years, or longer.


The women, domestic workers, come from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar. They sit beneath garish signs and posters, testifying to their friendliness and industriousness, or advertising "super promo" rates and "special discounts".
Some "maid agencies", as they're known locally, display women at work. Along one aisle, domestic workers push each other around in wheelchairs, as though they're taking care of the elderly. In another gallery, a woman cradles a baby doll and pretends to change its diapers. Others stand in mock living rooms ironing the same shirt, or making the same bed - scenes enacted elsewhere in Singapore at malls like Katong Shopping Centre on Mountbatten Road.
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This Singapore mall has real live maids on display for sale

When you are in the market to buy a car, you want options. You want details. It's a big decision, and a lot of money. You're going to have to live with it for a long time. Same logic applies to buying a maid, no? It does in Singapore.
According to a disturbing Al Jazeera report, Bukit Timah Shopping Center in Singapore has five levels of galleries selling real live maids. They are from places like Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar. And if you act now, you can get one at a "special discount."
Inside the galleries, maids sit quietly. Some nod. At displays elsewhere in Singapore, they act out tasks, like wheeling wheelchairs or pretending to change a baby doll's diaper.
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There Are Discount Maids For Sale at a Mall in Singapore
Walk into the Bukit Timah Shopping Center in Singapore, and you’ll find stores lined with just about anything for sale. Clothes, shoes, gadgets… and women.
According to Al Jazeera, the shopping mall has five levels of stores that sell maids that you can take home with you. Some even advertise “super promo” rates and “special discounts.”
Inside the stores, women from places like the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar sit quietly while potential employers talk to staff. Others are made to act out tasks, like ironing clothes or pretending to change the diaper of a baby doll.
This Singapore mall has real live maids for sale

Inside the galleries, maids sit quietly. Some nod. At displays elsewhere in Singapore, they act out tasks, like wheeling wheelchairs or pretending to change a baby doll's diaper.

Some places reportedly market stereotypes as well. Filipinos are "smarter," while Indonesians are "less bright." And Burmese maids, why they are "sweet-natured and compliant," of course.
These scenes are upsetting, though reports of maids being treated like slaves in Southeast Asia are nothing new. The Philippines is apparently looking into the issue.
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Pinay maids 'marketed' in Singapore mall: report

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it will look into a report that Filipino maids are among those being exploited at a mall in Singapore.
Speaking to ANC on Saturday, Philippine Labor Attache to Singapore Vicente Cabe said agencies found engaging in malpractice and ill treatment of Filipino helpers will face sanctions.
Cabe said there have been no direct complaints on the matter so far, but noted similar complaints were made in 2013.
‘Mall maids’ in Singapore: Two recruiters suspended
The Labor Department has barred two placement agencies suspected of having been engaged in the so-called ‘discount on maids’ marketing strategy.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that Homekeeper Agency and Budget Maid Agency both based in Singapore have been suspended by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said it would consult with the United Arab Emirates to resolve the issue of workers seeking to work in the UAR as domestics. The deployment of new hires was suspended by the Labor department after the UAR adopted a policy that in effect barred the Philippines and other embassies from verifying the contracts of their workers-nationals.
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Binay seeks probe of ‘maids on display’ at Singapore mall
VICE President Jejomar Binay on Monday said he is deeply concerned by a report of domestic workers, including Filipinos, being put on display at malls in Singapore.
"The Philippine embassy should investigate the report and if needed, make the proper representations with Singaporean authorities," Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' Concerns, said.
He said if the report is true, the act of "displaying" domestic workers in malls to be scrutinized by prospective employers violates human rights and international laws upholding the rights of migrant workers.
No inappropriate displays of maids, say employment agencies

The Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore), or AEAS, yesterday dismissed claims made in a recent Al Jazeera article that maid agencies here are putting foreign domestic workers (FDWs) “on display” at shopping malls and treating them as “commodities”.


In response to media queries, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesperson said it had visited employment agencies in the two shopping centres mentioned in the report — Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Katong Shopping Centre — and did not find any inappropriate displays of FDWs.

The Al Jazeera report, published last Friday, said the agencies in the malls “display women at work” and that the FDWs “sit beneath garish signs and posters, testifying to their friendliness and industriousness, or advertising ‘super promo’ rates and ‘special discounts’”.