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.
HI, a 40-year-old woman trafficked from Ponorogo to Hong Kong (2009-2011), described hersituation at a training centre in Jakarta.
The staff hurled verbal abuse at us if we woke up late, arrived tardy to class or didn’t clean well. They would then punish us by making us clean the bathroom, run many laps around the training centre or stay up all night guarding the centre.
After seven months, my employer terminated my contract because according to her, I didn’t clean well or was too slow. But the real reason is because the placement agency convinced her to change domestic workers so that the agency could earn more money from recruitment fees.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International