PSA video urges Singaporeans to report domestic worker violence

A promotional image of the #UnmaskTheViolence campaign. Image: Jay Liu
A promotional image of the #UnmaskTheViolence campaign. Image: Jay Liu

A Singaporean art director recently roped in a group of friends to lend their creativity to a campaign creating awareness on domestic worker violence. 

Jay Liu, 29, and several others produced a 30-second clip featuring a real domestic worker removing her surgical mask to eat, revealing the bruises on her face. The idea behind the #UnmaskTheViolence campaign was conceived during the thick of the pandemic to encourage more people to report instances of domestic worker violence to the authorities. 

“Everyone is required to wear a mask at the moment, and we figured that the idea can be derived from this thought: Most of us wear a mask to prevent the virus. Some of us wear a mask to conceal the violence,” Liu told Coconuts today. 

In the clip, viewed over a thousand times since it was released earlier this month, the campaign phrase said: “No violence should be masked.”

The campaign is recognized by migrant worker advocates Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training, who endorsed it on their respective online pages. 

It only took Liu and six others two months to get the video out. According to the freelancer, the woman featured in the video “felt that she can play a part for all the migrant domestic workers who are suffering in silence.”

“It was a joint-discussion with my friends over a gathering earlier this year, there were multiple articles of domestic helpers’ abuse cases resurfacing and we felt that the local community can do more for our foreign friends,” he wrote. He declined to identify the woman in the clip. 

Recent reports of abuse in Singapore included one involving Myanmar woman Piang Ngaih Don, 24, who died of a brain injury in 2016 after she was abused by her employers for several months, including being kicked, burned, and starved until her weight dropped to 24kg before she collapsed. Indonesian worker Khanifah, 32, suffered permanent scars all over her body after her employers stabbed her shoulder, slashed her forehead, and hit her head and mouth with a hammer. 

One in seven Singaporeans have personally witnessed domestic worker abuse, according to a 2019 YouGov survey. The police had said that it received an average of 270 reports of abuse annually from 2017 to 2020. 

If you are aware of a case of domestic helper abuse, please reach out to HOME at +65 9787 3122 or FAST at 1800-339-4357.

Other stories you should check out:

7 of the worst maid abuse cases in Singapore

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