Despite guidelines set by the Ministry of Manpower four years ago which ban the use of advertising terms that liken maids to goods have recently resurfaced online, as shared in a report by the Straits Times.
According to the Sunday Times, there have been at least five agencies that incorporated phrases which have been flagged by the MOM as unacceptable, which include “free replacement” and “fast delivery,” only within the last three months.
Advertisements Likening Maids to Items Resurface Online in Singapore
Two months ago, an employment agency along with one of its employees was charged in court for posting insensitive notices online. This was the first time that such action had been taken against an agent for the offence.
Erleena Mohd Ali, 41, an agent working for SRC Recruitment had posted advertisements on Carousell that showed faces of several women who are believed to hail from Indonesia. A month ago, she was slapped with a fine of SGD 20,000 after pleading guilty to the allegations.
The guidelines established by the MOM back in 2014 had been the result of the slackened attitude of maid agencies in Singapore as highlighted in a news feature shared by Arab news agency Al Jazeera, revealing advertisements common in Katong and Bukit Timah shopping centres that objectified maids with the use of signs such as “SGD 1 maids” to catch attention and as part of the marketing trade in the city.
Since then, a large group of new maid agencies have sprouted in the market, and they may not be necessarily aware of the existing guidelines, referring to the Carousell incident.
In line with this situation, circulars from the MOM have been released since 2016 and twice this year to remind agencies of the industry guidelines.
According to the MOM, regular checks are conducted at agencies. Feedback from the public is also solicited regarding the context of how advertisements are used before implementing the necessary course of action for such cases.
The MOM also shared that agencies can freely approach them for guidance as to which terms are considered acceptable. And while the ministry can offer available counsel regarding these matters, the government aims to raise awareness and develop public attitudes to a higher standard regarding what is both socially unacceptable and financially disadvantageous.