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.
RH, a 35-year-old woman from Ponorogo, described her living conditions at the training centre in Jakarta.
It was small and overcrowded with about 300 trainees. We had only one shower facility, which meant that seven people had to shower at a time so there was no privacy. We had to sleep on the floor on mattresses and even had to share because there weren’t enough. It was also dirty with rubbish collection only once per week.
I worked for three months and during this period, I was not paid at all. I asked my employer for my salary, but she said that she was keeping it until after the seven- month deduction period. In the end, I never received any of the money.
My employer terminated my contract after three months and refused to return my passport and contract. In the end, I only received my passport from the placement agency at Hong Kong airport when I was about to return to Indonesia.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International