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.
HS, a 32-year old woman from Ponorogo was trafficked for domestic work to Hong Kong.
I was at a training centre in Jakarta where there were about 400 trainees. As we could only receive incoming calls on Sundays, there were so many people waiting, especially since there was only one office phone! It was very difficult to receive calls from my family.
The instructors at the training centre in Jakarta always pushed us to work harder and if we gave the wrong answers in class, we were punished. For example, I had to stand up still for five hours. Other trainees were hit by the instructors on their hand or back.
After two weeks, the placement agency came and picked me up. No reason or explanation was given to me for the early termination by the agency or employer. Before I left the employer’s house, I had to sign two documents – one was a receipt for the flight ticket home and the other was in Chinese so I didn’t know what it was for, but I had no choice but to sign it.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International