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Transient Workers Count Too received a complaint about a post on this website about Singapore mums using blogs to vent about their maids. The blogger, Expat Bostonians, has written a rebuttal here.

Her point was that she never intended to demonise domestic helpers and that it was unfair to her to be quoting from her words under a headline that includes the word “demonise”.

We accept that at the very least, it was a borderline call by the writer. The writer feels that this blogger doesn’t fully belong in an article that highlights much worse examples of online ‘demonisation’. After all, her same post also said: “I refuse to be one of those women who lets one bad experience sour her on helpers overall or to start painting all helpers with the brush of a bad apple.  But right now, I just don’t want a stranger in my home,” which we ought to have highlighted equally. We regret this omission.

However, the main thrust of our article was about how easy it was for employers’ postings on the internet to be become or be used as material that stereotype and derogate foreign domestic workers. To research this article, the writer Farah spent a long time online surfing around as if she was a new mum to Singapore looking for advice on hiring a maid. The object wasn’t to ‘demonise’ this blogger but to make the point of how easy it is for employers to publish whatever we feel about maids without a worry about the repercussions of what is posted.

Farah says: “There are a couple of points to make about this: whatever you post online becomes searchable. I surfed as a mum and found this post in which she recounts in exhaustive detail an act of betrayal by her maid and the subsequent termination.”

It might have started off as a stand-alone post, but it invites a lot of comments about maids that don’t necessarily reflect the writer’s own ideas. And that’s why it was included in the article: these are the writings that a new mum would see when considering hiring a maid. Taken together, they strongly shape the perception of employers, a perception that is probably extremely unfair to the vast majority of domestic helpers who are honest and loyal.

Farah says: “Comments in blogs can and should be moderated; newspapers regularly switch off comment streams to avoid this problem. So in posting about one bad experience, many more are shared and become permanent archives of the ‘maid betrayal’ theme online. Bloggers do know that when they post they are doing so in a public space, and they can switch off comments to avoid this happening.

“My post wasn’t setting out to demonise this mum, and she clearly is someone who cares a lot about the livelihood of her maid, and has written constructively about the employer-maid dynamic in Singapore. My objective was to highlight something else that happens when employers post online about their bad experiences with their maids: the snowballing of bad story after bad story with no right of reply.”

It is not TWC2 policy to remove content from our blog on request, unless what has been written is demonstrably false.  In this case, the one-line reference to Expat Bostonians in our article is not false, but quite supportable given the thrust of the article’s argument, as explained above. The complainant said her article was not intended to ‘demonise’ domestic workers. Reviewing her article closely, we agree. But unfortunately, it could be read as, had the effect of being, and was followed by comments that were, derogatory towards domestic helpers – which was exactly our point.