'Maids get stressed living and working 24 hours a day'

The elderly woman spat at her regularly and in a fit of anger, the Myanmar maid retaliated and hit her.

The family found out about the assault on the elderly woman and reported it to the police.

The maid was jailed for four weeks as a result, said Ms Valli Pillai, a representative from foreign worker help group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).

Ms Valli, who has been a Home case management worker for five years, related the case which happened last year.

While such incidents are regrettable, observers said the case underscores the need for domestic maids to have more avenues to air their grievances.

Home's executive director Jolovan Wham told The New Paper: "Domestic workers get stressed out living and working together with Singaporean families 24 hours a day. Some also don't get salaries until they have finished paying back the loans to their agents back home.

"Others are also stressed because they are not getting enough days off," he added.

Psychologist Daniel Koh of Insights Mind Centre said a "combination of factors like different environment and cultures, and the stress from change" could trigger a breakdown.

He added: "We don't know if these maids already have any underlying issues. They usually don't have anybody to talk to at work and as with all things, there is only so much one person can take."

Ms Joanne Lee, director of maid agency JL Employment Services, said maid agencies here do their best to work with their foreign counterparts to screen the best available maids for work here.

However, she added that employers should also be "very patient" when dealing with their domestic workers because not many of them have a good grasp of English, for example.


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