Revenge Accusations Against Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore

Seminar no. 1241
29 November 2023 Time 16.00 – 17.00 hrs.

Speaker: Jaya Anil Kumar, the Senior Manager for Research and Advocacy

Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) has released a report “I’ve Called the Police: A Study of Criminal Accusations Made Against Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore”. Based on the data collected from 100 individual cases of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) at HOME’s shelter for MDWs who were accused of various crimes between January 2019 to June 2022, this report explores how police accusations can be used by employers as punitive and often retaliatory measures against MDWs. It does so by examining the prevalence of these accusations, the nature of the crimes they’re accused of, and the timing of the accusations, i.e. whether they are made after the MDW arrives at the shelter as well as the outcomes of those cases. One critical finding is that over 80% of these accusations do not lead to a criminal charge. Theft is overwhelmingly the most common accusation made, with a minority of such cases leading to a criminal charge. In light of these findings, this report critically examines the prevalence of accusations (particularly those that are petty in nature and more likely to be punitive/retaliatory), and their relative and disproportionate impact on MDWs. It also considers the circumstances in which these accusations are made and their impact on the lives and incomes of MDWs.

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