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Why can't domestic helpers live out of home?

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pin

    Who says life is fair?
    There is a problem with logic in the article you posted here.

    I agree public figures or "celebrities" are often held up to an unrealistic and morally upright standing by the media. Yet somehow we are "shocked" when their dirty laundry is exposed (maybe there are more naive people out there than I thought). But that is setting up a straw man argument.

    Yes, life ain't fair. The poor still go hungry. Crime still happens. But that's missing the point. For example, just because crime still happen, does it mean it is ok for the police to stop catching crooks? After all, you can never catch all crooks in the world, so why bother? Likewise, just because the media has been somewhat "harsh" on "celebrities" , it means it is ok to ignore how they treat domestic maids? See the fallacy with this line of argument?
    Last edited by Watercooler; 30-07-2012 at 04:22 PM.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MovingIn07
    When we lived in Malaysia our "maids room" (we didn't use it as such, but this was the purpose of the room) was outside the air-conditioning, adjacent to the kitchen, with raw concrete walls (so no pastering or finishing), no window, about 60sq feet in size with a squat toilet in one corner, a shower with no partitioning adjacent to the toilet and I assume the bed would then go the other side. It was impossible to see how anyone could have a bed in there that did not get splashed by water from the shower and there was no room for anything else .....

    Compared to that, the bathroom-bedroom shown in the photo actually looked pretty nice! One could say that the maid had her own bedroom with en-suite bathroom. I'm sure that's how the singer saw it anyway! And as for the Mother not wanting to share her bathroom - I refuse to share a bathroom with anyone including my husband .... but I guess if the whole family shares one bathroom then refusing to share with the maid is rather pathetic.

    So it's all in the context! It does seem like with that much room, that singer could have afforded to give her poor maid a proper room.
    "Compared to that, the bathroom-bedroom shown in the photo actually looked pretty nice! "

    Lets see how you manage sleeping like that.......... Yep, the Malaysia maid room doesn't sound great, nor does the maid who has to sleep in the bathroom. Neither is nice. Trying to say compared to X, Y looks nice is a bit of a weak argument.
    dear giant likes this.

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MovingIn07
    When we lived in Malaysia our "maids room" (we didn't use it as such, but this was the purpose of the room) was outside the air-conditioning, adjacent to the kitchen, with raw concrete walls (so no pastering or finishing), no window, about 60sq feet in size with a squat toilet in one corner, a shower with no partitioning adjacent to the toilet and I assume the bed would then go the other side. It was impossible to see how anyone could have a bed in there that did not get splashed by water from the shower and there was no room for anything else .....
    Two wrongs ...

    Compared to that, the bathroom-bedroom shown in the photo actually looked pretty nice! One could say that the maid had her own bedroom with en-suite bathroom. I'm sure that's how the singer saw it anyway!
    Anyone that thinks that way should be forced to live in that nice room themselves. - I am sure the singer wouldn't see it that way anymore after one night.

    And as for the Mother not wanting to share her bathroom - I refuse to share a bathroom with anyone including my husband .... but I guess if the whole family shares one bathroom then refusing to share with the maid is rather pathetic.
    Even you don't share I do assume the rest of the family still has a proper bathroom, but I doubt that the same standard would be applied to maids.

    So it's all in the context! It does seem like with that much room, that singer could have afforded to give her poor maid a proper room.
    Which is the only 'context' that should matter. And if they couldn't then they shouldn't be allowed to hire a maid.

  4. #14

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    I think having a live out maid should be an option. In a city with such tiny housing stock, its just unreasonable to have to cram one more person in! We would get a full time maid if she could live out.


  5. #15

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    You can, of course, already legally hire full-time, live out domestic helpers. The only restriction is that they must already have the right to work in Hong Kong.

    dear giant likes this.

  6. #16

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    FYI - another article from SCMP earlier on in the month:

    Helpers demand right to live away from employers | HK News Watch | Latest Hong Kong, China & World News | SCMP.com

    Helpers demand right to live away from employers

    "Joanna Chiu
    Jul 12, 2012

    Domestic workers complained of being treated like "slaves" yesterday as they protested against a ban on living outside their employers' homes, and demanded that rules protecting their rights are enforced properly.

    A group of about 40 women from the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, along with half a dozen male workers and about 20 supporters chanted "we are workers, we are not slaves" as they gathered outside Immigration Tower in Wan Chai.

    The issue of domestic workers' living conditions shot to prominence after a magazine published a picture of a helper's bed perched on top of a toilet in a tiny bathroom.

    "When the government made live-in arrangements mandatory, they forced workers to put up with whatever conditions their employers offered them," said Eni Lestari, a domestic worker and spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants Co-ordinating Body, which organised the protest.

    Moving out of an employer's home is banned under a rule introduced in 2003 and designed to stop domestic workers taking on illegal work in the evenings. Last week, 25 domestic workers were arrested in Pok Fu Lam because they were not living with their employers.

    "It is time to stop pretending that just because a worker does not speak out, that she doesn't mind," said Doris Lee, 43, an employer of a domestic worker who took part in the protest. "Toilets, the top of laundry machines and cupboards are not suitable places to sleep."

    Workers who took the day off to join the protest shared their own stories of mistreatment and poor living conditions.

    Niki, a 25-year-old Indonesian woman, said she was forced to sleep outside next to her employers' bins. She showed scars on her wrists from where she had been bitten by dogs and said she was allowed only one meal a day.

    Rainatul Jannah, 22, fled from her employers because she said she was beaten. "I was sleeping on a couch in the living room," said Rainatul, who lives in a women's shelter in Kowloon. "My employer kept beating me, so I ran away."

    She lives with other migrants who can neither work legally nor leave Hong Kong because they are waiting for the completion of legal investigations into their cases of physical abuse, sexual assault, underpayment and illegal sacking.

    Legal proceedings can take up to two years and half the women end up dropping their cases because they are unable to afford staying in the city, said Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers.

    A study by the mission last year found that 67 per cent of the 2,023 domestic workers surveyed did not have their own rooms and were forced to share with children or elderly family members. Others slept on the floor of the living room, kitchen, laundry or storage areas. Some were sent outdoors or on the balcony.

    Some were forced to share rooms with men or older boys, increasing the risk of physical or sexual abuse.

    The standard contract for domestic workers states that "the employer should provide the helper with suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy".

    But while the maximum penalty for misleading an immigration officer about a worker's living conditions is a HK$150,000 fine and a 14-year prison sentence, the Labour Department does not have a monitoring system in place.

    That puts the impetus on employees to bring complaints but many fear losing their jobs. Under the Basic Law, those who quit must return home within two weeks and seek another job through an agency if they wish to return to the city, an expensive process for women typically paid HK$4,000 a month or less.

    Joseph Law, co-ordinator of the Hong Kong Employers of Domestic Helpers Association, said he supported the ban on foreign domestic workers living outside the home because it discouraged moonlighting.

    A spokesman for the Immigration Department said: "Foreign domestic helpers who consider that they are abused or exploited by their employers, including not being provided with suitable accommodation, may lodge their complaint to the Immigration Department and/or the Labour Department."

    But for Lestari and the abused women, it is not enough.

    "They see no point in reporting to the police. We don't know if our next employer will be better or worse, since there are no standards to protect us," Lestari said. "The justice in Hong Kong is injustice."

    [email protected] Copyright (c) 2012. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved."

    Full article also here:

    Helpers demand right to live away from employers | Joanna Chiu

    dear giant likes this.

  7. #17

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    I'm not suggesting for one moment that FDH's should not have decent accomodation - far from it.

    But - there are a few factors that one might consider among the debate.
    1. Firstly - a huge number of these maids would have come from homes where they regularly slept on the floor, couches or sharing with large numbers of other family members. For a good proportion therefore, these arrangements are not worse than they are used to and may well be better. If you came from somewhere that had you sleeping on dirt floors with the rest of your family - a bed over a toilet might be quite a step up!
    2. Secondly - a large number of local families in HK need FDH's for economic reasons (so both partners can work) but cannot afford large homes. For them, the maid sleeping on the kitchen floor, the couch or sharing with the kids may be the only solution.
    3. Thirdly - coming here is a good deal for many maids and there are plenty who want to come and work in HK. They earn much more money than back home. Would they want rules that cut the number of potential employers even if it meant better overall conditions? It's easy to ask for stuff - but if the HK locals who employ a good number of maids cannot supply it, that just means less jobs for the maids.

    Should we be ensuring that maids are TREATED fairly? Yes, no doubt in my mind about that.
    But I would put treatment - respect, being paid, getting days off, not being physically abused or made to work 12 hour days - quite alot higher on the scale of things that should be enforced than some of these desires.

    I think it would be a great idea for FDH's to be allowed to live out. It would increase the demand for them and would be a win-win for many maids and many employers alike.

    But it would NOT solve the problems being highlighted because the people who cannot afford to pay for their DH to live out would still not be able to afford it - what would we get then - maids being given 10HKD a night and told to "find their own place" and end up on the streets or such like?

    Space is always going to be an issue in HK. It's not just an FDH issue. It's a cage home issue and a local home issue as well.

    Certainly, having one's own room is desirable - but if the rest of the family is sharing a room - should the maid expect her own?

    Watercooler and gataloca like this.

  8. #18

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    Moving - I don't think your post above is going to win you many friends.

    Personally I have to say I don't particularly agree with what you say above. Well, not quite true. I agree with your sentiment, but I don't agree with your rationale / arguments.

    dumbdonkey likes this.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pin
    Moving - I don't think your post above is going to win you many friends.

    Personally I have to say I don't particularly agree with what you say above. Well, not quite true. I agree with your sentiment, but I don't agree with your rationale / arguments.
    No post that doesn't say the world should be perfect when it comes to maids will every be popular. But it's a complex subject without easy solutions, I think. Trite solutions are not helpful.
    Watercooler likes this.

  10. #20

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    The Indonesian maid across has a whole 700 sqft bottom floor of the village to herself, is she lucky, I hardly think so because she has to look after the middle floor (son of the building owner and his family), top floor (building owner and his family), I always see her working, she only got the whole floor to herself because the other deadbeat son owed a lot of money in gambling and ran away with his family.

    I also looked into getting a DH but I'm so used to walking around in my boxers and scratching my arse, loud farts here and there , it just wasnt going to work out.

    I also would love to get a live out DH.

    dear giant and nobby15 like this.

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