The Nation



Myanmar maids in S'pore seek sanctuary

A rising number of Myanmar maids are running away from their Singapore employers, complaining of being forced to work for months without pay.

The reason is that they arrive with large debts, and until those are cleared some receive no money at all. Others get just US$10 (Bt290) or $20 a month.

Maid agents estimate that there are close to 27,000 Myanmar women working in Singapore as domestic workers.

Although Myanmar bars its women from going overseas to be maids or entertainers, more have been arriving to make up for the shrinking number of new Indonesian maids.

Since January this year, 32 Myanmar runaways have sought shelter at foreign workers group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home). This number is half of the 64 who turned up over the whole of last year. Home sheltered 29 runaway Myanmar maids in 2011 and 13 in 2010.

Agents say the women get demoralised when they go unpaid for up to eight months while repaying placement fees of $3,200 to $3,360.

The going rate for Myanmar maids is between $400 and $420 a month, lower than what Indonesians and Filipinas command.

Many also arrive underage and untrained, do not speak English and find it hard to cope with working here, agents said.

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