Friday, 7 April 2017

Indentured Indignities

Not so long ago I posted on one of the modern forms of slavery, indentured servants in the Asian and Muslim regions (as opposed to people trafficking). So perhaps its no surprise that a scandal has erupted in Singapore, where a couple starved their Filipino maid.

Ms Gawidan The Maid, Lim Choon Hong and his wife Chong Sui Foon

The couple, finance trader Lim Choon Hong and his wife Chong Sui Foon, pleaded guilty and were convicted and jailed with sentences of three weeks and three months respectively for starving their domestic worker. This after their maid ran away and went to a charity .... where she was found to have lost 20kg (44 lbs) - about 40% of her body weight after being kept on a restricted diet of bread and instant noodles. 
This led to her weight dropping from 49kg to 29kg over a period of 15 months, and she was also made to sleep in a storeroom, and allowed to shower only once or twice a week. The couple also confiscated her mobile phone and passport, which is also not an uncommon occurrence.

Sadly as we have already documented, abuse cases are not uncommon in this part of the world, and this is a direct effect of having rich and poor countries next to each other. Rich Singapore, the Arab countries and even Malaya, are next to poor Indonesia and the Philippines. A recipe for abuse of the indentured workers system, which leaves women in particular open to violence, rape and slavery and this is an increasing problem in many countries such as Singapore.

This is the way much of the world is moving, as countries with exploding birth rates can not generate the wealth to increase the standard of living of their populations. Until and unless the world population starts to *fall, indentured work, which is often little more than slavery, will be the only way many can support themselves for the foreseeable future.

Serfs Costumes - Based on images collected by H. de Vielcastel

*An example of how a population fall, often increases the general standard of living is Medieval Europe, and in England, where the regular Plague occurrences contributed to the end of the serfdom and feudalism in western Europe. This was because the plagues reduced the amount of the labour force and put upward pressure on wages and conditions for freemen. This in turn caused many serfs to run away to hire on as 'freemen' labourers elsewhere. Even the serfs who remained found their conditions improved as their landlords felt pressure to stop their serfs being tempted into running off.


  1. Like common sense, this story goes to show that common decency is in shorter supply than we like to think.

    1. No one will argue against that point of view.


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