Maid arrested for murder of employer’s child…what should we do?

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An Indonesian maid was charged today (10 May 2016) with culpable homicide not amounting to murder over the death of her employer’s one-year-old daughter.

30-year-old Maryani Usman Utar allegedly strangled the crying toddler to death on Sunday at the family’s home in Simei.

If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ jail and a fine.

This is just one of domestic employee-related crime in the last few years.

Singapore has quite a big number of households employing domestic employees. One in five households, in fact.

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They help to lighten the load of their employers by taking care of their loved ones and helping with household chores.

But yet, many of these domestic employees, or maids, as many of us have commonly called them, are under-appreciated for their hard work.

Not only is there under-appreciation for their work, but some are abused or neglected.

Some employees face employment disputes and mistreatment.

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According to the Centre for Domestic Employees, an initiative by the NTUC, it received some 100 calls and/or cases since its inception in January 2016. 75%  of the calls are about seeking advice on employment matters while a quarter are on employment disputes and reports of mistreatment.

To mitigate the issues, CDE recommended a few upstream measures to promote greater awareness and education among employers, domestic employees and other stakeholders.

But on top of that, Singaporeans can do our part to help domestic employees feel welcomed and appreciated for the hard work they do.

As part of May Day celebrations, CDE also launched a thank-you campaign to bring about greater awareness of and show appreciation for these domestic employees’ contributions.

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To encourage a sense of gratitude and empathy amongst the young from an early age, CDE is also partnering NTUC First Campus’ 141 centres to encourage preschoolers to pen a message or draw on Thank You cards as a form of appreciation for their domestic employees.

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Arthur Lee

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