TWC2 responds to backlash over 'Mums and Maids' video

The Mums and Maids video has drawn flak.

by Nicholas Yong

[UPDATE on Monday, 27 April 2015, 4:30pm: TWC2 responds to backlash over 'Mums and Maids' video]

Four days after a controversial video urging employers here to give their domestic workers a weekly day off was released, migrant workers advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) says the campaign has achieved its objective of drawing attention to the plight of foreign domestic helpers here.

Noting that the video has reached more than 2.6 million viewers worldwide, a TWC2 spokesman said, in its Facebook page, "Never has the issue of domestic workers' right to a day off been discussed on this scale and generated so much buzz. This is what we hoped for when we lent our support to the campaign."

Titled Mums and Maids, the video urged employers to give their domestic workers time off, noting domestic workers’ absence is not an inconvenience, but an opportunity for parents to bond with their children.

The product of a partnership between TWC2 and Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) Singapore , the video has drawn criticism from members of the public who say it shames mothers for not spending enough time with their children.

Acknowledging that the video was meant to be "provocative", the spokesman added, "Whether you liked the film or not, let’s not forget that as a society we have failed miserably in our treatment of domestic workers. Many domestic workers toil day in and day out without the fundamental labour right of a weekly day off. We have been campaigning for this for more than a decade."

The full TWC2 statement is here

Women's rights group AWARE said in a Facebook post on Friday morning, "It's a pity that this video shames mothers, seeming to hold them solely responsible for childcare. Where are fathers -- how did they score and why does that not seem to matter?"

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In response to queries from Yahoo Singapore, an 
O&M Singapore spokesman said the idea for the video originated from an internal initiative inviting employees to come up with ideas for ways to improve life in Singapore. O&M Singapore staff then voted to focus on the issue of migrant domestic workers' rights.


"The women, children and domestic workers featured in the video are real families. Real mums with their actual children and actual domestic workers," said the spokesman.

The spokesman added that the interviewees were selected through a focus group recruiter, in order to handpick a group that would be representative of ethnic diversity in Singapore. They were all aware that the footage would be used to promote the rights of migrant domestic workers

Queries as to why only mothers were featured and not fathers, and whether the employers featured were all working mothers, went unanswered. 

The O&M Singapore spokesman was glad to see that the video has attracted a  "significant amount" of attention.

"Our mission is to bring the problem to light, get people talking and ultimately change behavior. There have been many opinions on the video (on both sides of the spectrum) but the important thing is to focus on the end goal – making sure domestic workers have a weekly day off," she said. 

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