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.
LE, a 28-year-old woman from Sumatra (2010- ), went to the Consulate after she ran away from her employer in June 2011.
I ran away because I was underpaid, given very little food, there were so many children to care for in a big house, no rest day, and long working hours with strict restrictions. I found out about the Consulate through an Indonesian neighbour, but when I went there, the staff were not helpful at all. After I explained my situation, they scolded me for remaining with the exploitative employer and then scolded me for having run away. The staff said because I had run away, it was my fault and refused to help me get my compensation money. They suggested mediation, but I refused because I wanted full compensation of the statutory wages owed to me.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International