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.
AK, a 30-year-old woman from Ponorogo (2010), was promised by her broker the Minimum Allowable Wage of HK$3,580 (US$460) but was told otherwise at the training centre in Malang.
After one month, the recruitment agency boss told me that I would get paid HK$2,000 per month, but if the Hong Kong authorities asked me, I must tell them that I receive the full salary. I couldn’t turn back because the staff reminded me that a lot of money was already invested in me. If I changed my mind, I would have to pay a huge penalty. I also needed to earn money, so that I could support my family in Indonesia.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International