A maid agency has been shut down for making the Indonesian and Filipino women brought to Singapore sleep in the kitchen or backyard and subjecting them to other abuse, news reports said Friday.
The Ministry of Manpower canceled the Grand Pacific Manpower Consultancy's employment agency license, according to The Straits Times. The agency's 20,000 Singapore dollar (US$12,000) security bond was forfeited.
Grand Pacific failed to provide suitable accommodations for the maids and withheld the passports of those placed with families, the ministry said. In one case, the agency failed to repatriate a maid within the required 14 days after her work permit was withdrawn.
Bridget Lew, founder of the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (Home), took in four maids who were referred to her by the ministry.
"They were sleeping under the stars in the backyard of a house," Lew was quoted as saying.
The cancellation of the agency's license will "send a clear message that such ill-treatment will not be condoned", she added.
Grand Pacific became the second maid agency to have its license canceled since January 2004. Legal Employment Services was found to have an underage maid and 55 others housed in unacceptable living conditions.
Since January, the ministry has rejected the license renewal applications of five other maid agencies for other breaches.
Lew said her group receives up to 300 calls a month on its helpline for maids.
"Many are complaints about insufficient food and rest, poor living conditions and uncaring employers, and about five calls (per month) are about physical abuse," she said. (**)