Myint Win Thein
One of the reasons for frequent maid abuses in Myanmar is the lack of labour contracts between housemaids and their employers. Almost all housemaids, most of whom do not have any legal knowledge, are hired through unregistered brokers who know little about laws related to their roles. Moreover, they fail to understand that they are responsible for the safety and well-being of the housemaids that they help look for jobs, making the housemaids vulnerable to unlawful treatment by their employers.
To aggravate the situation, housemaids are not registered with employment offices as other workers are required to. It is thus difficult for authorities to know how many housemaids are working in a ward or township under their purview. In addition, unlike other workers, the housemaids usually have to work by themselves in a home far away from their families, without anyone to consult with. As a result, most of them are overlooked when worksite inspections are carried out by authorities.
People know that housemaids are forced to work long hours under abusive circumstances only when such unlawful treatment is exposed. More and more inhumane abuses against housemaids have recently been uncovered by neighbours and local residents. It is clear that the public has become more aware of the depth of the problem and is beginning to do everything they can to help protect housemaids. The public can expose one case after another with no end in sight. What is more important than public awareness in this problem is the provision of the same legal protection to housemaids as to other types of workers. As pointed out by a Pyithu Hluttaw representative at a recent Hluttaw session, they are eligible for the same legal protection as everyone else.