Online ads in Singapore offering Indonesian maids for sale were Wednesday condemned as “unjust and demeaning”, in a rare flare-up of tensions between the neighbours over domestic helpers.

Singapore is home to almost 250,000 maids, mostly from poor parts of Indonesia or the Philippines, who head to the wealthy city-state to earn higher salaries than they can back home.

While Indonesia regularly protests about abuse and exploitation of helpers in Malaysia and parts of the Middle East, complaints about treatment of maids in tightly-regulated Singapore are less common.

However reports that Indonesian helpers were being offered for sale in the city-state on online marketplace Carousell quickly drew condemnation from rights groups.

The adverts under the user name “maid.recruitment” reportedly offered the services of several helpers from Indonesia, while some ads indicated maids had been “sold”.

(read more: The Jakarta Post)