Domestic caregivers unite in protest of treatment as maids

By Chi-hao James Lo , The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Several foreign caregivers from Southeast Asian countries yesterday rallied with the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT,台灣移工聯盟) activist group outside of the Executive Yuan in protest against ongoing mistreatment of foreign caregivers. The foreign caregivers criticized R.O.C. President Ma Ying-jeou for failing his guarantee to pass an insurance program protecting migrant workers within four years. Coming to Taiwan mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, female migrant workers are commonly hired as caregivers for the elderly and the disabled. However, after their arrival and training, the women are usually forced to take on the work of maids, doing household chores ranging from cooking to cleaning bathrooms, in addition to their responsibilities to the disabled.

Seeking only to be protected under law, the caregivers rallied to urge the government to look after their rights. According to a survey from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW, 衛福部) conducted on the 10-year long-term care plan, disability rates among the elderly have risen 2.3 percent in 2008 to 27 percent as of 2012, while the percent of the population carrying permanent total disabilities has increased to 16.4 percent. A survey conducted by the Taiwan Association of Caregivers, (TAFC, 家庭照顧者關懷總會) showed that the number of individuals which require caregivers was 700,000. Of this demographic, 65 percent are self-sufficient, 28 percent hire migrant caregivers, 4 percent are institutionalized, with only 3 percent enlisting the aid of government-provided care. These calculations only prove that the current scheme does not provide sufficient care to those who need it and does not provide enough protection to caregivers, who are mostly foreign and not protected under law, according to MENT spokesperson Wu Ching-ju (吳靜如). MENT and the migrant caregivers also urged the government to find a solution soon.