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Indonesian Domestic Workers and the Lack of Food Securtiy in Singapore

Indonesian Domestic Workers and the Lack of Food Securtiy in Singapore

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by IDWFED published Dec 15, 2017 12:00 AM
Contributors: Charlene Mohammed
This report summarizes a study about food security conducted among Indonesian domestic workers in 2016 in Singapore. Using qualitative methods, the author interviewed domestic workers and employers, and administered a food security questionnaire.

Resource Type

Research reports, working paper

Details

Summary:


Many Indonesian women travel to Singapore to take up jobs as domestic workers in households, where employers are required to provide them with food. Despite working in one of the most affluent countries in the world, there are concerns that domestic workers do not get enough to eat on the job.

This report summarizes a study about food security conducted among Indonesian domestic workers in 2016 in Singapore. Using qualitative methods, the author interviewed domestic workers and employers, and administered a food security questionnaire. Findings show that many domestic workers struggle to get food while working in households, even though food is abundant in these households.

The majority of respondents did not get enough to eat, regularly ate a limited variety of food, and often went to bed hungry in employers’ homes. Domestic workers were often given smaller portions of food than employers, and spoiled food or leftovers from employers’ plates. Some workers were expected to eat foods that were prohibited within their religion.

Employers deliberately managed domestic workers’ food intake. They used food as a strategy to maintain domestic workers’ lower status in the household. As a result, domestic workers lost weight, and were weak, malnourished, and emotionally distressed. Domestic workers used strategies to cope with this food insecurity, such as drinking water to suppress their hunger, while they dealt with employers who treat them poorly.

In order to improve the health and well-being of domestic workers, this study recommends the Singapore Ministry of Manpower implement regulations regarding domestic worker rights around food access. The Ministry needs to reduce barriers to reporting food insecurity, provide more training to employers on feeding workers well, and implement mandatory household checks. Employers need to provide domestic workers with more and better food, without conditions and punishment. Domestic workers, as with all residents of Singapore, are entitled to food security in the home.

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URL

https://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/capi/research/home/projects/migration-mobility/women-migration-family/index.php
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