There are an estimated 10,000 people living in modern slavery in Hong Kong (GSI 2018). Approximately 370,000 foreign domestic workers, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines, work in Hong Kong; some become victims of forced labour in the private homes in which they are employed. An NGO report released in 2016 estimated as many as one in six foreign domestic workers is a victim of labour exploitation. Employment agencies often charge job placement fees in excess of legal limits, and sometimes withhold identity documents, which may lead to situations of debt bondage of workers in Hong Kong. The accumulated debts sometimes amount to a significant portion of the worker’s first year salary. Some employers or employment agencies illegally withhold passports, employment contracts, or other possessions until the debt is paid. Some workers are required to work up to 17 hours per day, experience verbal, sexual or physical abuse in the home, and/or are not granted a legally required weekly day off.
AU, a 30-year-old woman from Tulungagung
All trainees without an employer had to deposit IDR 2,000,000 [US$200] and those with an employer had to deposit more money – IDR 5,000,000 [US$510] for a three- day pass.
I had no time to myself – I worked long hours from 5am to 11pm with no rest day. My employers didn’t allow me to leave the house without someone accompanying me. When it was bed time, I had to wait for everyone to sleep because I slept in the family bathroom.
Once the daughter poured boiling water from a kettle on my right arm and chest because I didn’t clean the fish properly and cut the vegetables the wrong way. Another time, she stabbed me with a knife because I had cut the meat incorrectly. I was bleeding. That night, I ran away – the security guard at the employer’s apartment called an ambulance for me. At the hospital, they cleaned the wound and gave me an injection. The police arrived at the hospital and I filed a complaint against my employer.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International