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The following is an extract from a journal written by a foreign domestic worker in Singapore. This is the second in a series.
For their privacy, TWC2 has replaced names and removed references to dates and places. Only major spelling mistakes have been corrected; otherwise the text is what was written by them.
In this extract, one of the foreign domestic workers confined to a government dormitory (for maids whose cases are being investigated) sketches the cases of other women held in the same dormitory, which functions almost like a detention centre.
Yasmin arrived here in dormitory on 21 December. She was crying when the first time I see her. I myself comfort her and ask what up with her.
Her case. Her employer run an agency. She help her employer to ferry girls from home to Agency, Airport and do medical the girls before they send to their own Employer also.
She been caught up by some busybody and report her and Employer to MOM.
She’s here for almost 2 months. I ask her to do volunteer guard to occupy her mind.
Yasmin is an Indonesian. She work here as a domestic helper for 7 years. She got 1 daughter back in Indonesia to be feed with.
Yasmin are not allow to take day-off here in dormitory. She is not allow to do temporary job also.
I don’t really know whose fault – is the employer or Yasmin? As we discuss further her problem, she agree to her Employer to help to ferry and collect girls. Even she knows that tiring and double work for her. She say she is quite happy to do what she been told by her Employer. But end up in dormitory.
She was just arrived here 2 weeks ago. Susan, as I called her is so young. She has twin kids back in Philippines. An 1 year old twin to be feed back to Philippines. Susan is a single mother. Her parent is the only who look after her kids.
She work in the pub.
She come here in Singapore by tourist visa. She pay the agent $6,000 so she can have a working pass.
According to her one day there is a checking in the house she was rented with the girls. She panic and admit she work in the pub.
Agent are not co-operative with her. Now in the run together with her passport.
I’m just hoping she won’t stay here longer as I though. For the sake of her twins. Hope government can find a way to stop this kind of work “prostitution”. Still a job I know but I guess is not nice to hear. Dirty job I ever imagine.
Closest to me. She stay here longer as I imagine. She has a lot of story to be told. Her case is quite complicated.
Trisha just get married before coming here in Singapore to work for better future with the husband.
The first time she work with the Chinese family for 4 months and back to agency. This happen until she fed-up and end-up in dormitory.
Trisha stay here for 1 year and 7 months. No work. No income. She is a quiet girl but she will talk also if she ask for. Trisha is the one who always stand-up against the Staff in Keramat.
Her MOM officer did not allow her to take off day and only allow to go out in public holiday. She said some of the time if she is outside she don’t want to come back in the shelter. She is so bored here in Keramat that so often I saw her alone in her bed. Whatever she think I can’t read it.
Second creature I’m close with… Saree’s case is very light.
She run away from her employer because she was not paid for 2 years by her employer. But end up in the dormitory and stay here for 1 year and 1 month. In this long she stay here. I see her sometimes crying while talking in the phone.
Saree had a twin sister and to whom the husband of Saree make a second wife. That really hurt her a lot. Her twin sister had a daughter with her husband. According to Saree make her really cry thinking of them.
Her case is going to close soon. But cannot take any single money from her labour of sweat. She say she just wanted to go home. She cannot get a money. All she want to go home and settle her family.
She is shy type but laugh loud. Very sweet lady. Single and Christian. I always see her reading a bible.
Natee’s case is physical abuse by her Employer. She work with Chinese employer for 3 months. But she is physically abuse. Beaten up until she fainted. She return to Agency. Stay there 4 month with no salary.
I remember she say her agency name “Labour Express”. Police pick her up in the agency. Bring her here in dormitory. She stay here for almost 5 months now. I don’t really know why she is not in temporary job.
She stay in Kampong back to Indonesia. I know she miss her mom and poverty bring her here to work for better life.
TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our