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Activists protest conditions in Singapore

MATT KIELTYKA, 24 HOURS
Women dressed as maids are gagged and shackled outside the Singapore consulate in Vancouver, yesterday. (Matt Kieltyka, 24 hours)

Women dressed as maids are gagged and shackled outside the Singapore consulate in Vancouver, yesterday. (Matt Kieltyka, 24 hours)

Six activists literally chained themselves to brooms, dusters and vacuums outside Vancouver's Singapore consulate yesterday.

But unlike foreign domestic workers in the Asian country, the women were able to break their bonds after the protest marking World Abolition of Slavery Day.

"Foreign domestic workers aren't legislated a day off," said Stephen Rathjen, of the Creative World Justice Group. "They tend to work weeks and months without any time off."

Rathjen said thousands of women move to Singapore from neighbouring countries to work as maids because "they know they can make more money than they do back home.

"But unfortunately, at the same time, they get exploited because the laws covering foreign domestic workers aren't adequate."

The Creative World Justice Group, based in Vancouver, hopes their downtown lunchtime demonstration yesterday would at least raise awareness of the issue. "The average person has no idea that this takes place," said Rathjen.