Tuesday, 21 April 2009

How domestic workers can improve their working conditions

A domestic helper has appeared in court accused of trying to injure her employer by mixing her menstrual blood in a pot of vegetables she was cooking.

Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court heard that Indra Ningsih, 26, admitted to police she had done so in the belief that it would improve her relationship with her employer. She entered no plea yesterday and was remanded in custody until the next hearing on May 13.

Prosecutor Vincent Lee gave a statement to the court in which the Indonesian maid admitted under caution to mixing the blood with the vegetables in the belief that it would make her employer, surnamed Mok, "more amicable and less picky." [...]

Last year, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced two Asian domestic helpers to four months in prison and 250 lashes each for contaminating the tea of their employer with urine and menstrual blood.

One of them was from Indonesia and the other from the Philippines.

In December 2007, another Indonesian domestic helper in Hong Kong added urine to the drinking water of her employer and his family.

She believed it would make the family treat her better. It was discovered after the family noticed a difference in the taste of the water. The maid was jailed for three months on a charge of "administering poison or other destructive or noxious things with intent to injure."

In some Southeast Asian cultures menstrual blood is thought to have special magical powers.