A Singapore charity for helping migrant workers has expressed shock at the death of a domestic worker, abused by her employer. The abuse suffered by Myanmar maid Ms Piang Ngaih Don, 24, was “horrific, dehumanising, and abhorrent”, said the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).
In a statement on Wednesday (Feb 24), the organisation wrote: “HOME regularly encounters domestic workers who are not allowed rest days or phones, particularly during the first few months of employment”.
“Such isolating practices make domestic workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. HOME has advocated for domestic workers to be allowed to live outside their employers’ houses. A live-out option will make them less vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, and help regulate their working hours”, it added.
HOME said: “Domestic workers are recognised by our criminal law as vulnerable victims,” Their abusers face enhanced punishments. However, by that time, the domestic worker would have already been subject to the abuse, with serious and often long-term impact on her physical and mental well-being. While accountability and punishment are important, we must do more to protect domestic workers, with strong legislation and pre-emptive measures.”
Ms Piang Ngaih Don, 24, was punched, stamped on and starved by her employer until she weighed 24kg days before she died in 2016 from a brain injury. She was about a year into her first job in Singapore.
Her former employer Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Feb 23) to 28 charges, including culpable homicide, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by starvation, voluntarily causing hurt by a heated substance and wrongful restraint. Another 87 charges will be considered in sentencing.
In their statement, HOME added that they hoped “medical professionals who encounter domestic and migrant worker patients showing signs of abuse will proactively take measures such as history-taking independently of employers; and flagging warning signs to the authorities, medical social workers, or organisations that assist migrant workers”.
“We grieve Phiang’s death. She leaves behind a young son who will grow up motherless. Her demise is symptomatic to us of the systemic issues that domestic workers face. We must do better to protect the safety and well-being of the domestic workers and migrant workers who come here to seek a better living for their families back home, and contribute to our country”, HOME added.
HOME’s full statement can be found here. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
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