IMPACT 0259: PROTECTING FOREIGN WORKERS FROM ABUSE THROUGH PUBLIC EDUCATION
Phoebe Swinn Yap, 25, is one of the leaders of MaidForMore, an advocacy group championing for the fair treatment of domestic workers and raises awareness on the issues of abuse through public education. Phoebe started MaidForMore with her sister in 2019 when they observed a rising number of cases of domestic worker abuse.
I’m Phoebe, one of the leaders of MaidForMore. I’m 25 this year and currently work in an agriculture startup. Before this, I was working for an ethical domestic worker agency – “ethical” because they do not charge the regular recruitment fees. My sister and I created MaidForMore in 2019 as we were tired of reading and hearing about the everyday degradation of domestic workers in our nation.
This would hardly sound inspiring, but a huge driver of my desire to be involved in social impact initiatives was guilt. I felt guilt over the simmering knowledge that thousands of women my age have to leave their families to work for complete strangers simply because they weren’t born in an environment that gave them opportunities like I have.
It was an honest motivation, wanting to advocate for better treatment of our domestic workers through social media. We also volunteered at organisations offering upskilling activities for them. Choosing to enter this line of volunteer work meant we were exposed to even more examples of how our domestic workers are being treated, which was upsetting. We had to fight against our own declining morale as we questioned the effectiveness of pushing for mindset change.
However, through this journey, many people shared with us how they came to appreciate their maid more, as they became more aware of the systemic issues they face. This was enough for us to keep trying.
Ironically, the best that could happen is for MaidForMore to no longer need to exist, in the event that abuse and derogatory perceptions cease. But this cannot happen without shifts in legislative (labour laws) and commercial structures (domestic worker agency regulations), and our ability as a nation to celebrate domestic workers for the incredibly resilient women that they are.
Systemic injustice might take years to overcome, but the power that us individuals have in tipping the scales cannot be underestimated. I hope you realise the everyday ability you have to better the life of a domestic worker, whether she’s in your home or another’s.
This article was published on Nov 5, 2021