Sneak Preview: Our Homes, Our Stories

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we call upon the Singapore government to strengthen social support systems and access to remedies for women and girls who are survivors of violence. Migrant domestic workers are often the most at risk of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Their vulnerability is heightened because of their isolation in employers’ homes, dependency on them for survival, and limited abilities to communicate in English. Normalised employer practices in Singapore such as the denial of rest days and restrictions on mobile phone use exacerbate this vulnerability.

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Stephanie Chok
Empower survivors of violence to speak up, seek help and make informed choices

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we call upon the Singapore government to strengthen social support systems and access to remedies for women and girls who are survivors of violence. Migrant domestic workers are often the most at risk of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Their vulnerability is heightened because of their isolation in employers’ homes, dependency on them for survival, and limited abilities to communicate in English. Normalised employer practices in Singapore such as the denial of rest days and restrictions on mobile phone use exacerbate this vulnerability.

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Stephanie Chok
High Court Victory Sets Precedent for Migrant Workers’ Rights

Imagine paying thousands of dollars to land a job with a faraway employer you’ve never met or signed a contract with.  That’s an unavoidable reality for many low wage migrant workers.  Often, prior to arrival, the only assurance they have about the employer, job type and salary is their In-Principle Approval letter (IPA).  The IPA is issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) based on the employer’s application.  It serves as the worker’s entry visa.

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Stephanie Chok
A worker, not a slave: domestic workers still denied weekly rest days

Sally, a migrant domestic worker (MDW) from the Philippines, accepted a contract without any rest days because her agent told her that if she rejected the offer she might not get another one. Sally stayed with her employer for almost two years, working from 5:30am to 10pm every day. She wasn’t allowed to rest during the day, and only allowed to go outside to buy groceries. Eventually, the situation got too much for her to bear and, at her neighbour’s suggestion, she found her way to HOME.

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Stephanie Chok
UN women’s rights committee gives recommendations to Singapore

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women released its comments and recommendations to the Singapore government in a report which was published yesterday. The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was ratified by Singapore in 1995. The government is obliged to consider the committee’s comments and recommendations for its domestic policies and legislation to ensure substantive equality for women.

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Stephanie Chok
No privacy, no space: domestic workers endure poor living conditions

At close to midnight, Awe, a domestic worker from Myanmar, curls up in the corner of the living room with a thin mattress and a small fan and tries to get some sleep. “Sometimes it is difficult,” she says, “because my employer watches TV or her son plays computer games till the early hours of the morning.” She copes with the noise by using ear plugs, but when she rises at 6am to start her day, she does not feel rested at all.

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Stephanie Chok
Domestic workers lack adequate food and nutrition

When Yanti started working for a Singaporean family, she never thought she would have to deal with not having enough food to eat. For migrant domestic workers (MDWs) like her, Singapore represents wealth and prosperity. “I didn’t expect I would have to depend on my next-door neighbour to feed me,” she said.

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Stephanie Chok
The Cry of the Hidden

Every Sunday for six weeks, we shadowed Robina Navato, a 44-year-old Filipino domestic worker who has been volunteering for three years at HOME’s help-desk. What began as a final-year project to make a short film about Robina’s volunteer experience became, in the end, an eye-opening experience for us. We heard first-hand accounts of the abuse – emotional or verbal, and sometimes physical – that some domestic workers suffer. The stories were both shocking and sad.

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Stephanie Chok
Reflections from Geneva

In March 2017, HOME and TWC2 submitted a joint report for the 26th session of the United Nation’s Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), where the Bangladeshi government’s state report was to be examined. Our submission examined the Bangladesh government’s commitments as a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

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Stephanie Chok