There are many challenges that come to migrant workers overseas, most especially for women who are employed as domestic workers, some of which include sexual abuse and violence, among others.
And since domestic workers in Hong Kong can be considered as one of the vulnerable sectors of society, there have been many organizations who have extended and devoted their efforts to ensure that domestic workers’ rights are upheld by all. However, this isn’t enough, according to a prominent labour organization in Hong Kong.
Agency Urges Gov’t to Ensure Help for Abused Migrant Workers in HK
The Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions called on the government to provide more assistance to domestic workers who overstay to seek justice in sexual abuse cases, as shared in a report by Asia Times.
The organization noted that many migrant workers fear about speaking out on cases of sexual abuse because they are scared of losing their jobs, and even if they pursue justice, since they cannot continue to work, they will also lose the ability to send money back home to their families.
Such is the case of a 29-year old Filipina domestic worker Anna (not her real name), who overstayed in the country after terminating her contract for allegedly having been sexually assaulted by her former employer.
It was Anna’s first time to work in Hong Kong last year, and she had been employed by a retired Hong Kong man. On only her second day at work, her employer offered to give her a massage to “welcome her.” And while puzzled by this, Anna accepted the offer but even grew more suspicious when the man touched her behind.
The following day, the employer continued with the act, but she did not make a police report yet because she lacked proof. Since then, the man repeatedly touched Anna indecently and kissed her whenever he had the chance to.
On her tenth day at work, Anna went with her employer’s family to Thailand, where she was able to take a video of one of her employer’s sexual advances on her in the hotel room. Upon their return to Hong Kong, Anna sent messages to her friend to help her report the case to the police.
Anna ended her contract with her employer on her 17th day at work.
According to Hong Kong law, a domestic worker is only permitted to remain in Hong Kong for a maximum of two weeks after the premature termination of a work contract, after which the worker must return to her home country to file another work visa application.
During her stay in the country, Anna was not allowed to legally work even as she was still pursuing justice for her case.
This being the case, Anna’s employment agency arranged housing and gave her a living allowance. However, Anna has no idea how she can continue in this set-up and when this assistance might stop.
The Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions has urged the Hong Kong government to provide housing and a living allowance to domestic workers who decide to stay in the city to pursue justice and to consider allowing them to look for a new employer during this transition.