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.
JH, a 22-year-old woman trafficked from Malang to Hong Kong, ran away after two months because her employer physically assaulted her on multiple occasions.
I was given only one rest day per month – either Monday or Tuesday. My employer purposely didn’t allow me to go out on Sundays because she didn’t want me to mix with other Indonesian domestic workers. She got very angry whenever I talked to other Indonesians in the apartment complex. Also during my day off, my employer said I could only spend it at the placement agency.
If we didn’t follow the instructions given by staff members, they would get angry and personally attack us with comments like ‘You’ll only be a domestic worker in Hong Kong, you’re not worth anything’.
I am afraid that the recruitment agency in Indonesia will go to my family and threaten them to pay for the remaining agency fee. My parents don’t know that I’ve quit my job so I’m very worried.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International