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Will you sleep inside a toilet? Not me, says this Filipina DH

09 October 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Gale's mattress can only fit in the tiny space beside the toilet bowl

A newly arrived Filipina domestic worker is set to terminate her contract after failing to convince her employers to give her a sleeping place other than the toilet where she sleeps, and even takes her meals.

Gale E., who started working with her employers family in Happy Valley only on Sept. 4, immediately protested when she saw the tiny room where she is supposed to sleep, rest, do the laundy, iron clothes, and - eat, bathe and defecate.

The room is so small that when she lays down her mattress at night, Gale ends up sleeping right smack beside the toilet bowl.

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She has also been eating inside the toilet, saying the first time her employers gave her food, they stared at her until she was forced to retire in her designated place.

The first person she complained to, says Gale, 32, was the employment agency staff who attended to her from the time she arrived on Aug 21, after which she spent 14 days at a hotel for the mandatory quarantine for new arrivals, before moving to her employers' home.

The agent called William told her in a chat that he would speak with the employer, but said “I am frightened that they will feel that you are demanding because it is quite a short period.”

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Gale replied that it was alright for her to sleep in the living room or on the floor elsewhere in the house, but not in the toilet as it was not healthy for her.

 

Gale's employer says the helper should be grateful because she has a room with everything in it

According to Gale, the employers’ flat which is listed in her contract as measuring about 550 square meters, has three rooms and two toilets. Her employers sleep in one room, their two kids in another, and the third is a study room which is unoccupied at night. 

Gale says she would be more than glad to sleep in that spare room, even if only on the floor, for a few hours each night.

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On the advice of friends, she brought up her concern with her employers, but Gale was told she couldn’t be given more than what she already had.

Gale says her employers even told her she should be grateful because other helpers are made to sleep in worse places like kitchen floors and cabinets, and that she should be more “mature” and not listen to what people around her were saying.

“Sinabi ko kasi na nangangati ako sa likod dahil sa higaan ko, mahirap gumalaw sa kadahilanan na yun nga po, fit lang ang bed ko sa CR na tinutulugan ko,” said Gale in a chat message. “Tapos sabi ko under the contract a helper is not allowed to sleep in the toilet. Sabi niya sa akin, ganito sa Hong Kong, maliit ang bahay.”

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(I told them my back itches because I cannot move much as  my bed fits exactly the little space left in the comfort room where I sleep. I also reminded them that in our contract, a  helper is not allowed to sleep inside the toilet. She (female employer) said, it’s like that in Hong Kong, houses are small).

Gale was also told the employers’ two previous helpers were just too glad to stay in the toilet as they had “privacy.”

“Kasi daw yung two maids niya naging masaya sila kasi nagkaroon sila ng privacy, may CR, may toilet at may sink, lalo na may higaan. Huwag ko daw sayangin ang opportunity kasi madami daw iba na walang trabaho,” reported Gale.

(They said their two previous helpers were happy because they had privacy, there is a comfort room with toilet and sink, and especially a mattress. They said I shouldn't waste the opportunity given me because there are many people who have no work).

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

But Gale was not appeased. She sought help from the Mission for Migrant Workers where she was referred to by the Facebook group Domestic Workers' Corner, and she was advised to report her plight to the Immigration Department.

After doing everything that she felt was necessary to get out of the unhealthy situation she was forced into, Gale made up her mind to serve a month’s notice of termination.

Anyway, she says her employer told her that if she wasn’t happy sleeping beside the toilet bowl, she is free to go. 

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