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.
RT, a 32-year-old woman from Trenggalek (2011-2013), experienced deception by her broker when she was trafficked for domestic work to Hong Kong.
When the broker came to my house, he said that I could find a job quickly in Hong Kong and earn full salary of HK$3,580 [US$460]. But in reality, I was only paid HK$2,000 [US$260].
I signed a document in Indonesian that said I would receive HK$2,000 [US$260] after the five-month deduction period. I couldn’t refuse to sign it because I was already at the training centre and had just signed my employment contract.
Because I was hungry, I had to buy food at the training centre, but it’s more expensive than what stores charge outside the centre. As I couldn’t leave, I had no choice but to pay for the food at the elevated prices.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International