Maid AgencySingaporean mum, Noraini secretly filmed her maid when she started being suspicious of her 1-year-old daughter’s sudden unusual bruises. What she saw not only shocked her, but also broke her heart into a million.
Maid terminated contract without any penalty
Maid's (FDW) employers faced unfair policies
My 4th filipino FDW (JA)
Maid terminated contract without any penalty
Maid's (FDW) employers faced unfair policies
My 4th filipino FDW (JA)
I went back to work when my daughter Roza turned one, and hired Yati, my Indonesian maid. She was young (22 years old), sweet, soft-spoken and well-mannered. I took an instant liking to her at the maid agency… we totally hit it off.
I had a travelling husband and a mother-in-law who would visit us on Sundays. Most of the time it was Roza, Yati and me at home. I loved the dynamic between Yati and me- she wouldn’t steal my one-on-one time with my baby (many maids do that, I hear), she wouldn’t invade my space and privacy, and she was really helpful around the house. Roza was fond of her too. Feeling all positive and confident of Yati being a wonderful addition to our family, I didn’t worry about leaving my child with her from 10am till 5pm every day.
Boy, what a big mistake!
The first few months went really smooth- she learnt how to cook our favourite Malay-style dishes pretty fast, kept the house sparkling clean, and handled Roza with love and gentleness. She was every employer’s dream. My friends who visited us always praised her, wishing they had maids ‘as good as her’.
In her fourth month with us, I started noticing some behavioural changes in her. It all happened so rapidly and unexpectedly. Yati became cold towards us, she would stay in her room for hours, saying she felt sick (which I thought was a genuine reason), and we would hear her yelling on the phone on some nights.
My mum-in-law also picked up on this. Yati went from patient to quick-tempered. When Roza would need a diaper change, she would delay. When Roza cried, she would ignore her and not pick her up like she used to. When relatives came over, she would show a sulky face- she just wasn’t the same Yati.
One day, while giving Roza a bath, I noticed a few red marks on her thighs and on her lower back. I couldn’t get anything out of my baby, as she couldn’t speak yet (apart from basic words). I asked Yati how she had gotten it, and she would say “She play in the walker and bang herself on the wall.” Or “How I know? She’s always holding things and walking, maybe she fall down.”
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Roza alone with her anymore. My days at work became difficult- my mind was always on my little girl and what possibly was going on at home. I discussed this with my husband (he was away in Paris for 2 weeks), and he was furious and demanded that we get cameras installed in our house, pronto.
I did just that. One day when Yati was out on her off day (Saturday), I set up CCTVs with the help of my brother-in-law. We put one in the hall, and one is Roza’s room.
On Monday, when I was at work, I was on edge. I was so curious to see what was going on at home (through my mobile phone), but at the same time, so nervous.
That was when my fears were confirmed. I saw Roza playing in her playpen while Yati was sweeping the floor of the hallway. All of a sudden, just out of nowhere, and for no reason, Yati walks up to my baby and kicked her on the spine! Needless to say, Roza started to cry. I was so angry, my phone actually dropped out of my hand and onto my office desk. My colleague (who is also a good friend) was also watching it with me, and we just couldn’t believe what we saw.
To my horror, Yati didn’t stop. She started slapping Roza on her cheeks and then pushed her down when she got up, wailing loudly and calling out, “Mama!” My heart shattered into pieces. I left the office in a rage, drove home like a maniac with crazy thoughts running through my mind.
How could she hit a small child?
Where was all this anger coming from?
How long has thing been going on for?
What if I didn’t install the cameras?
Should I call the cops?
Yati was surprised to see me return at noon. She was on the phone, and Roza had fallen asleep on the sofa. I could see her puffy red eyes. My poor baby must have cried herself to sleep. I threw my handbag on the dining table and yelled at her to get off the phone. She was panicky and started to tremble. I demanded to know why she was assaulting my child. At first, she denied it. When I showed her what was recorded on my phone, her eyes dropped and she started defending herself. “What?! How dare she?”
There was no sign of remorse in her. She kept a straight face, telling me Roza had been throwing things off the table and she was mad at her. No such thing happened- she was lying through her teeth. This got me even more mad. I told myself to keep calm, and I called the maid agency.
The agents came down quickly within the hour. Thankfully, my baby was asleep throughout the confrontation. I kept hugging her and looked out for the bruises- there were fresh ones from today. The agents, upon seeing all the evidence, were appalled by her sickening behaviour and unforgivable actions.
They took her away and asked me if I wanted to take further action on her. I told them to just send her back home, and I didn’t want to think about her anymore. The only thing I wanted to have clarity on was why she did what she did.
Yati shared with them that she was having problems with her mother back home. Her mum was asking her to send back more money and was fed up that she wasn’t earning more than her other friend who came to Singapore 3 years back. Yati claimed that she didn’t know how else to channel her frustration, so she took it out on Roza.
Whatever the reason was, it would never be good enough to appease me or make me feel sorry for her. She assaulted my child, and I would never forgive her for that. I was nice enough not to report her to the police. To me, if someone could do that to a small and helpless child, this person was dangerously unstable.
My husband upon returning from his work trip was so shaken about the whole ordeal. It took us a lot of time to come to terms with what had happened. And to forget it. The images still play in my mind at times.
Now my daughter is now 2, and I have new helper who is older, has her own kids, and I never leave Roza alone with her. My mum-in-law has ever since moved in with us. Yati was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and taught me such a big lesson to never trust any maid no matter how good they seem.
“She turned out to be a monster maid and I thank God that I was quick to catch it. What if I wasn’t alert enough? My baby could have died!”
Noraini’s interest in opening up and sharing her heart-wrenching story (which wasn’t easy) is to urge all parents to install CCTV cameras in your houses, no matter how much you trust your maid, or how long she’s been with you. Always look out for signs that are unusual and keep getting feedback from your kids (if they’re old enough) about how the maids treat them. Never leave them alone- either have a relative or a friend over, or even a neighbour to keep an eye on your child.
This story is a gut-wrenching portrait of child abuse. We are deeply saddened by how little Roza was treated, and hope and pray that no parent has to go through anything like this.
It is not that easy to find a domestic helper who is willing to care for my teen, worry about her safety, kind, patient and want to give her the best in her capacity as FDW. I can't expect FDW to love my girl like what I did. I need a good helper who can accept my girl the way she is, protect her and be understanding to her "special world as well as needs".
Incidents such as carelessness or this bruise on my teen's nose can be avoided or shouldn't have taken place… again, am I right? My current FDW did this twice. Both incidents, she told me she was playing with my girl, denied she pressed her nose too hard, insisted just play play, implying didn't hurt my girl... my girl's nose was too delicate for her "brutal touch"!
To err is part of being a human but denying your mistakes and not correcting them is wrong. Felt a lot of FDWs are dishonest, just want to find ways to make it look like it is no big deal or tried to convince employer/activist the harm inflicted was an 'accident'... not done on purpose. If FDW did this to your child, can you say the same thing? Will you let her off like above employer?
9 Apr 2013
Came across a FDW's Facebook. I don’t intend to put any link to promote or support her views. In short, I shall identify her as FB-FDW. If you're interested to find and support her, spend some time to dig yourself!
This is what FB-FDW commented “use `send back to own country' as a big weapon used to threaten the maid. It is like taking many months of our life away, and taking many months of our pay away. If you don't like this weapon, please tell MOM to help us. Please. The law say that Employer can send back maid to own country anytime, please, this is a bad bad law, PLEASE help us by asking your country MOM to change the law if you care. Please”
Winter: Me too wish that MOM removes this ridiculous repatriation clause. If a maid is afraid to be sent home, I will give her a rating that she really needed money to send home, has something to be afraid and may do a proper job in order to keep her rice bowl. Too bad, there are too many bad maids around who are too happy to make employers send them home and absorb their maid loan .... free holiday!
"Send back to own country" is a dagger to an employer who has a lousy FDW and still have outstanding maid loan. I could be the rare kind of employer who is afraid of this 'dagger'. I wonder when it can become a wonderful weapon in my hands.
An employer by the name of Jason posted this, about his
maid on FB-FDW’s Facebook: Myanmar
Jason: “She eats a lot!when we have our dinner every night,she takes half a pot of our rice!In fact,one month after she came to our place,she actually gain much weight!And there was once we brought her to a buffet with us during Christmas and there was a mute family next to our table using their sign language to communicate,and my maid actually has the cheek to point to them telling us and laughing like a joke!the worse thing is after a couple of weeks later,she actually told us she wants to "house change".we ask her who told u can house change and why?She told us her agent in Myanmar told her she is allowed to.My wife and me three into a fiery rage!She told me my wife scold her everyday.But from what I see,my wife was juz teaching her the house work and becox she keep repeating the same mistakes,of coz there was some telling off!i went up to her and shouted at her!we told her we will send u back to her hometown!after she saw how angry I was,she straight away knee down and keep saying sorry and told us she do not want "home change" anymore!I told her our house is not a hotel and she will go back Myanmar!
FB-FDW: I don't know how complete your testimony, but, even from what you post, I must say, I am sorry, I think you are a bully, and not a gentleman, a terrible brute. You, your wife, together shout at a village girl and threaten her until she go on her knees and beg you for forgiveness and mercy, it is a terrible thing to read and imagine. I pray to the lord you do not hire another maid, for any other maid will just suffer with you unless you realise that what you did was wrong, and a big black mark on any man's heart to remember that was done.
Winter: My FDWs, especially M felt I can’t scold her despite her purposely doing the wrong things. My Indo M showed black face or simply walked away when scolded or lost my things. I have not started scolding JA yet but will soon ... if she continues with her "I don't care, take it or leave it mentality".
Why Sg employers have no rights to train a FDW how to take care of their children and do chores in their own house, the way they want … the usual ways, as parents and owners of the house? Employers paid the maids and agencies a lot, didn’t they? Why FDW cannot deliver her job as per employer’s training? Who gave FDWs the rights to show no respect to employers? Who is the real bully? Why portrayed yourselves as being bullied instead of a stubborn maid, untrainable, displayed poor working attitude; and not putting any extra effort to help the household who has employed you? Patience to train a FDW is not forever, which employer can continue talk nicely and showed no anger to a maid who insists on making mistakes? It is not a matter of maid doesn’t understand, it is her mentality! Would your mother be so loving and not scold you for mistakes purposely made?
I agree Human Beings are not perfect but if FDWs are in the wrong, why insist on doing it when your employers already reminded you not just twice but many times not to repeat? Did you forget to bring your brain and heart to work in Spore? To me, showing respect is don’t place yourself high above employer, either we’re on same level (open discussion, talk about the terms before employment) or we’re just slightly above you, I mean as a Human Being, your boss who is paying your salary, your live-in costs, the Human who owns the house and also parents of the children. Is this really a request too much to ask? If you (FDW) have no interest to work properly, why agree to be employed? Who gave you the rights to lie to me and claim it is common or alright for human to err?
FB-FDW also posted this “My sister maids, you are not a cow, OPEN YOUR MOUTH, SPEAK FOR YOURSELF”
An FDW Cristina commented on her Facebook: “It is not easy to open your mouth. It is very difficult, I know that. And they may get angry. They may send you back. But think for yourself, what is better? You close your mouth and suffer for 2 years, or you open your mouth and have a chance to improve your life?”
“Open your mouth, remind them you are a girl, not a rough worker, remind them that some of us, every month, there are 2 or 3 days of very big pain when our woman monthly time comes, remind them we are strong but we have tears and we need to have our future without broken skin on our hands. Remind them that one day a man will hold our hands, and it is better that our hands have no broken skin and itchy skin forever in our lives because of the soap we use eat our hands. Remind them that if we stand and work and wait for them to order us to get them drinks upstairs and downstairs for 12 hours a day, blue blood lines will grow behind our knees and we don't want our husbands and children to see these and cry about our past.”
“I encourage you to speak to your employer. Speak calm and cool, not angry no crying. Just speak. Even if she say NO, it's OK, when you speak, your heart is clear. If you cheat the employer, your heart is never clear. Only if everything fails, then you cheat with pride. Because, you already open your mouth, you already tell the employer what you want. If, even if you try your hardest, you patient and tell the employer everything you can do already, but if the employer still only reply you by threaten you to send you back to your country, then you cannot do anything anymore. Now, you can cheat with pride. Because send you back to your country is wrong, it is a bad thing, it is an act of a coward to use a bad law to threaten a maid who has nothing. When you cheat, cheat well.”
Last Saturday, she lost my girl’s new clip-on stroller umbrella. Again, claimed she didn’t see, don’t know where.
Everything related to special child is so costly. Spore government do not allow subsidy for sandwiched special needs family, most had to bear full costs. We are not that rich but sometimes, we have no other cheaper alternative so had to pay for the required item/equipment.
I’m eyeing this, wonder anybody so generous to sponsor …. I know I’m day dreaming ... just testing!
The reason why I intend to find another pushchair that can recline, not too heavy is because my girl can’t take nap on her current upright pushchair. By not getting enough rest, I’m afraid my girl may trigger seizures (this finding was based on my girl’s real experience). M certainly can’t handle her, wonder what she’ll do if that happens? Get terrified and runway, leave my girl alone …. simply dump her? Will M switch on her brain and senses to try call me for advise?
不愿变好向上好学，不懂得反省的现代女佣！Incorrect working mentality!
18 Dec - Gas Leakage
Me: you didn't turn of the gas
M: I turn off (she didn't bother to touch the knobs)
Me: you didn't, I just did.
M: I off gas
Me: smell, take a deep breathe, this is how gas leakage smells like
M looked at me, breathe in but didn't show me the look that she could detect unusual smell. It wasn't that strong because my kitchen is not enclosed but I could still smell it.
Me: you didn't turn off properly
M: I off gas, no forget
Me: (sigh in my heart) remember this smell, make sure you turn off the gas
M made mistake again but felt wasn't her fault. In her concept, she didn't do anything wrong or deserved to be reprimanded. Fire and gas safety is very important! Anybody disagree? I felt like explaining but is it worth it? She can continue to switch off her brain, eyes and ears. When she felt lecture time is up, she'll say one of these "can go now?" or "I want go toilet" then it means she's released from my 'lecture' and she'll hide in the toilet for quite a while.
To M or maybe other FDWs, it is no big deal to make mistake, employers just trying to give them a hard time. M must have felt I'm a bad employer who is extremely hard to get along with. Maybe she knows the consequences but felt Spore employers are too rich, can afford to build another home and buy all the necessities. Wanted to share some reality with her but will I be talking to the wall again? Am I going to get angry that my effort is wasted again?
Worry whether I'll see my house in proper condition everyday. Will my princess be smiling at home waiting for me to hug her?
Hiring FDW is bringing me additional stress. I paid for her services but I'm tortured mentally. When will this kind of life end?
Lost my girl's spectacle
Yesterday, I took my girl and M out for lunch at NEX. My girl is suppose to wear her spec but sometimes I let her wear glasses, not daily for fear that she'll throw or destroy it. She destroyed her first spec. I have reminded M to be observant, focus on my girl, especially when we're outside... that Mickey mouse logo spectacles cost about S$400.
I know M's ex-employer didn't bring her out shopping so she's fascinated by the beautiful malls and things to see. Note: I am ok to give FDW off days as long as she behaves like a responsible and decent FDW.
M has been repeatedly reminded to take care of my girl independantly, work without reminders, know how to keep my girl safe and always open her eyes to see and observe. I'm a full-time working woman, M can't rely on me to remind, she must learn to be independant. Pretend that I'm not around so that she can learn to be independant.
M lost my girl's spectacles. So heartache. When I asked why M didn't watch my girl closely, she said no, I didn't lose spectacles, I 'no see' (means she didn't see it), don't know where.