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.
MI, a 25-year-old woman from Blitar (2008-2009), also worked excessive hours and was forced to do additional work outside of the house, which is illegal under Hong Kong law.
Everyday I worked from 5am to 2am – I never rested, never had free time and was only given breakfast and dinner. My employer criticised me everyday about every aspect of my work. If I had to take her son to school and he wasn’t ready, she blamed me. If the meals weren’t delicious or up to her standards, she got angry and criticised me for not knowing how to cook Cantonese food. On top of all the domestic duties, my employer also made me work everyday for two to three hours at their chicken shop dressing the chicken and cleaning the shop.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International