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Indonesian maids getting a raw deal

TIME : 2-25 13:59:03

One of Indonesia’s greatest exports is it’s people. Indonesians can be found working on ships, in hospitals and in private home all around th world. They don’t always recieve good treatement though, and a BBC article discusses this issue.

Anytime you have poor people, with limited resouces, travelling far from their home for work, you have a situation that can be exploited. Many Indonesian maids overseas have to deal with harrassment and violence, some are even killed. Malaysia and Singapore have a bad record as far as treatment of Indonesian maids. Let’s look a little deeper.

Wealthy Chinese families in Malaysia and Singapore, often hire Indonesian / Filipino maids. On occassion the husband demands ‘extra duties’ , so the wife feels justified in taking out her own frustrations on the maid. Similar things happen in the Middle East and Europe.

When I worked in a Lebanese restaurant in Hong Kong some years ago, there was a 4-tier racial preference system, employed by the owner / manager. Level 1 (the top level) was the 4 Lebanese chefs, who got great pay, free rent, free food and plenty of slack. Level 2 was white backpack travelers who were passing through. We didn’t get the benefits of the Lebanese guys, but the owner knew we were all one plane ride away, from our next country. Level 3 were the Chinese waiters, who needed the job to feed their family. Level 4 were Filipino waitresses, who were employed illegally and would put up with anything to keep thier job. I remember one time the manager smiling sweetly at myself and a Canadian guy, then going nuts at the Filipino girls. The reason was we were seen shopping together in the mall (he had a ‘no dating policy’ which basically meant, ‘the girls are for my boys only’). This kind of thing goes on, and one can only imagine how it is behind the scenes of a family house, the girls probably don’t get a minutes peace.

Don’t know what the Indonesian government can do about it, other than take a US style approach, whereby if a citizen gets killed, the person responsible becomes wanted.