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28 June 2004
There are some 55,000 Indonesian maids in Singapore, many of whom enjoy pleasant working environment. However, the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore says it receives dozens of reports daily from maids who claim they have been the victims of abuse.
According to Fachry Sulaiman, the head of protocol and consular at the embassy, Indonesian maids consult the embassy mostly on legal issues.
Currently, 40 migrant workers, who claim to have suffered abuse at the hands of their employers, are living at the embassy at the “Temporary Shelter for Indonesian Maids Working in Singapore.”
Some claim they were physically or sexually abused, others simply state that they were not paid for their work. “Most of them reported their cases to the Singapore police. The cases are being investigated, while the maids wait to see what happens next. Most prefer to stay here pending an investigation, rather than return home to Indonesia,” said Fachry.
Nawang, 23, a maid from Kendal in Central Java, said she had worked in Singapore for two years, but never received her salary.
She used to live at her employer’s house in Bukit Timah, but is now staying at the embassy.
With a wage of S$250 per month, Nawang estimates that she is owed S$6,000 by her employer.
“I reported my situation to the police, but my passport is still being kept by my employer. I beg the Indonesian government to help me solve this problem,” she said.
Sari, a maid from Surakarta in Central Java, said her employer abused her daily.
The 40 migrant workers at the embassy shelter have been living there for one year.
Fachry said the embassy paid all their expenses, including three meals a day.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Mochamad Slamet Hidayat, said that many employees were also the victims of workplace accidents. He said dozens of Indonesian maids died from 1999 to May 2004 after falling from high-rise apartments in Singapore. Most fell while hanging out clothes to dry or washing the windows.
The Indonesian government has asked the Singapore government to improve the conditions of domestic workers there.