Lin Wenjian – Straits Times Indonesia
Singapore. The controversial Maid Review section of a blog that allows employers to post and view alleged misdeeds of maids is no longer available for public viewing.
The move came after a migrant worker rights group complained that the site violated the rights and privacy of maids by revealing details such as their names, photographs, work permit and passport numbers. After The Straits Times reported on the site last week, at least four maids have left comments on the blog to defend themselves.
Its creator, who goes by the moniker “Tamarind”, said in an entry last Saturday that the Maid Review section is now private. She asked those “concerned about employing a maid who can potentially harm your babies/toddlers/elderly” to e-mail her.
She would then let them view any comments about the maid on the site singaporemaid.blogspot.com. Employers can then show the information to the maid in question “so that she has a chance to defend herself.”
A section reviewing maid agencies was also made private.
Explaining her decision, “Tamarind” noted on her blog that the Maid Review section was created to be a point of reference for new employers. It was “never meant for public shaming of the maids.”
“Good maids who have done nothing wrong have no reason to worry about this blog. I have also never stopped any maid from defending herself,” she wrote, adding that those not planning to get a maid ‘should have no business’ reading her blog.
When contacted via e-mail yesterday, she declined to comment further.
However, she defended the blog in an e-mail sent to The Straits Times after the first article was published. She said she created the website in 2007 to warn other employers about errant helpers after an experience with a Filipino maid who allegedly abused her daughter.
“This same maid could be employed by another employer to look after their newborn baby,” she said.
She also revealed in her blog that she had to send seven of the eight maids she hired back to their agencies.
Jolovan Wham, executive director of the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (Home), said yesterday: “Her intentions may have been good, but the actions resulting from them have negative repercussions. Whether a maid is good or not is subjective.”
The husband of one of Home’s volunteers has complained about the blog to the Manpower Ministry.
Edwin Pang, executive director of the Migrant Workers’ Centre, said it was good that the offending section has been made private.
“But I doubt this will be enough for the foreign domestic workers as other employers may still have access to their particulars and any uncomplimentary remarks made about them, if the writer allows it,” he said.
MP Christopher de Souza, who is deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said one way to resolve the issue is by regulation. He said: “We ought to look at exploring legislation which prevents users from uploading personal profile data such as ICs and work permits.”
The blog has triggered angry responses from some maids, who posted messages on it.
One anonymous maid from the Philippines wrote: “This blog shows that we are looked down upon.”
Another maid from Indonesia wrote: “If you don’t like the maid… send her to the agency… don’t gossip about other people.”
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.