Monday, 9 November 2015

Do 'maid cameras' cross the line?

Currently, it is not illegal for employers to install cameras in bedrooms and toilets as there are no privacy laws here, said lawyers. But if surveillance is done in areas where the worker undresses, this could constitute an outrage of modesty.ST PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: DESMOND WEE

Like many maids in Singapore, Ms Dewie, 27, came here for a bigger pay cheque to support her young children. She could endure the backbreaking hours, even the repeated scoldings, but what made her decide to leave was the closed-circuit television camera in the toilet.

"Why are you taking so long in the toilet? Why are you using my shampoo and not yours?" her employer would ask, despite not being home at that time. Ms Dewie, whose story was recounted by non-governmental organisation Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), then checked the toilet and found a tiny camera hidden in a corner.

It is not uncommon for employers here to use closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to keep an eye on their maids, especially those left at home with the elderly or young children. They use CCTVs to deter their maids from abusing family members or to ensure that no strangers enter their homes.

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Why is Maid Abuse so Prevalent in Singapore?

The number of maid abuse cases has been increasing rapidly in Singapore. According to the State Courts, there were 26 maid abuse cases filed last year. This is nearly double the 14 filed in 2012. In total, there are 90 of such cases filed in the past five years. You can read some of the horrible stories here.

The most recent case would probably be that of Mrs. Suganthi Jayamaran who was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for abusing her maid, Naw Mu De Paw. The employer had pleaded guilty to three of seven charges — using a heated metal ladle to burn the victim’s skin, punching the maid’s left eye and using a metal pestle to hit her right eyebrow and the back of her head.

Some of my friends from other countries have asked me why Singapore had so many of such cases. “Isn’t Singapore an advanced and developed country? Why do so many of such barbaric incidents still happen?” they wonder:
  • Many Singaporeans judge a person’s worth based on how much they earn
  • Many perceive ‘the boss’ to be superior to ‘the worker’
  • Many Singaporeans are unhappy and choose to take it out on an easy target
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Employer Installs CCTV in Toilet to Monitor Maid’s Movements!
This employer took micromanagement to the extreme by installing a CCTV camera in the toilet to monitor what the family maid was doing in the shower

Dewie says she felt something was up when she was asked why she had used her employer’s shampoo, and why she took so long to bathe.

The 27-year-old Filipino maid found it strange because her employer wasn’t at home whenever she took a shower.

Following the questioning, she paid closer attention to her bathroom surroundings and discovered that a camera had been installed to monitor her movements.

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Maid Gets Repatriated After Speaking Up About CCTV Installed In Toilet To Monitor Her Movements
27-year-old Filipino domestic helper Dewie came to Singapore to earn more money to raise her young children

But she soon decided to leave.

It wasn’t the hard work that deterred her – for her children, she could put up with the physically demanding manual labour and repeated scoldings from her employer.

The last straw came when she found out that her employer had installed a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) in the toilet.

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Set guidelines on dos and don'ts of CCTV use
There are no "ifs" or "buts" about it: Intruding into a maid's privacy should not be condoned, no matter what the reason ("Do 'maid cameras' cross the line?"; Sunday)

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations and the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) should work together and issue guidelines to maid agencies to warn employers against intruding on their maids' privacy.

Maid agencies' contracts with employers must include the dos and don'ts of mounting closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in employers' homes.

CCTV cameras are regarded as an invasion of one's privacy when installed thoughtlessly in maids' bedrooms or bathrooms.

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Maid in Singapore gives birth to dead baby, hides body in drawer
The woman was arrested for concealment of birth by secret disposal of a dead body. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

A 33-year-old maid who gave birth to a dead baby boy and kept the body in a drawer at her employer’s house has been arrested.

The incident occurred on Monday (Oct. 19) afternoon at a two-story house along Lorong Ong Lye in Serangoon.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the woman, said to be a maid from Indonesia, had complained to her employers that she was not feeling well.

related: Do 'maid cameras' cross the line?

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A reader has sent us this distressing post about 2 maids in Simei that beat up a young girl who was throwing a tantrum and refusing to go home. Despite repeated reminders by the passerby, the 2 maids did not want to call the parents and only reluctantly did so after they were warned several times.

To the parents of this little girl... please be aware that your maid in green tee is slapping at ur girl's hands and legs. The maid even punched yr kid right at her head twice. I could tell that ur maid is not using her full strength but however that two punch won't be light either.

It is not difficult to tell that the maid in green tee is very frustrated and angry,the other one seems a little lost.

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Maid has void deck 'date' - when she's supposed to be looking after elderly person in wheelchair

"This incident happened at the void deck of Block 122 Geylang East Central on May 13, Tuesday, at 1.10pm.

"I believe the helper was supposed to take care of the elderly person who was seated in the wheel chair.

"Apparently, she is seen behaving intimately with a man, ignoring the elderly who was left in the wheel chair for more than an hour.

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Here is a look at past cases of high-profile maid abuse
Chong Sui Foon and her husband Lim Choon Hong failed to comply with work pass conditions and provide adequate food to Madam Gawidan (right) for 15 months, causing her weight to fall from 49kg to 29.4kg. PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, ST FILE

Husband Tay Wee Kiat faced 12 charges involving the couple's two maids, while Chia Yun Ling was convicted of hitting one of them. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Over a two-week period, Zinnerah Abdul Majeed also hit domestic helper May Thu Phyo  with a bamboo pole, a belt buckle and even a bicycle lock, leaving her with multiple injuries. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Jayasheela Jayaraman (left) and her mother, Anpalaki Muniandy Marimuthu were sentenced 12 months and 16 months' jail respectively for hurting the former's maid. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Ms Khanifah (above) had been working for Zariah Mohd Ali and Mohamad Dahlan for about six months when the alleged abuses took place. She told the court she was hit on the head with a hammer at least five times.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Rosman Anwar (left) and his wife Khairani Abdul Rahman had their jail terms increased for the prolonged abuse of their Indonesian maid. ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

Chua committed both offences while under a mandatory treatment order for paranoid schizophrenia. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Tutor Low Gek Hong, 37, repeatedly scratched the Myanmar maid on the face, arms and ears for being inefficient, and used a pair of scissors to poke the victim's left shoulder in February 2012. PHOTO: ST FILE

Chan Huey Fern's case was said to be one of the most distressing maid-abuse cases. PHOTO: ST FILE

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Spate of maid abuse cases
Maid abuse? What about the reverse?
Jailed For Abuse Of Maid
Maids And Murders
Buy a discount maid at Singapore's malls
Street Fights Vs Lewd Games
Indonesian maid allegedly killed 1-yr-old baby under her care
Maid tossing items out of a window