“You cannot choose your food… I will decide the type of food to buy for you. You cannot use the washing machine or dryer… you must hand wash your own clothes and bed sheets. And if (the children) fall down, it’s your fault” – CNN cites this as one of the house rules laid down by an employer of a foreign domestic maid (FDW) in Singapore  in its feature article Little rest for Singapore’s silent army, dated October 31, 2011.

With a focus on employers’ attitudes, the article delves into the fact that few FDWs enjoy a regular weekly day off. Human Rights Watch is quoted as saying that while Singapore has attended to cases of physical and sexual abuse against domestic workers, the record is much poorer in terms of labour rights.

Teh-TWC2 Executive Director Vincent Wijeysingha was quoted as saying: “One of the things we noticed from the responses of employers is a kind of panicked reaction when we start talking about a day off.

“I think that’s based on the fact that we’ve come to depend so much on our domestic workers for everything. You see them running the household, shopping, paying bills and looking after vulnerable people in the family. The key reason why we need them is because there are no affordable childcare services and no affordable elderly daycare services. So this represents the cheapest social policy option.”