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.
RA, a 23-year-old woman from Ponorogo (2008- ), found out at the training centre in Surabaya that her broker had lied about the terms and conditions of her work in Hong Kong.
Instead of HK$3,580 [US$460], the recruitment agency boss informed me that I would be underpaid HK$2,000 [US$260] for two years with no rest days or holidays. He said if I wanted a rest day, then my employer would deduct HK$200 [US$25] from my monthly salary.
The staff imposed penalties on us for everything. We were punished for the smallest things like eating peanuts in bed. The punishment for that was to mop the floors on rainy days or washing staff members’ bicycles.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International