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.
TS, a 24-year-old woman trafficked from Magetan to Hong Kong(2012- ), tells of forced contraception at the training centre she was sent to.
All the other trainees had to get the contraception injection, but my friend and I – who had previous overseas work experience – weren’t intimidated by the recruitment agency or its staff and just refused. So in the end, we didn’t have to.
One agent was always angry at me, calling me useless and complaining that I only ate and slept, and nothing else. She repeatedly said that I would make the agency bankrupt. She kept taunting me with remarks like, ‘Do you know how much money you have to pay in order to return to Indonesia? IDR 7,000,000! What kind of work does your father do? Did he already pay for you to return or not?’ The agent also lied to the Hong Kong authorities claiming that I had stolen from my employer and run away. They also made me sign a document in Chinese that had ‘HK$3,740 [US$480]’ on it.
[When TS ran away, the agency threatened to call the police]
Of course they wouldn’t because they know they did things that were illegal. Thanks to the help of IMWU, I got my passport back through the Indonesian Consulate. That’s when I discovered a dismissal contract with my photo on it, but the signature on that document was forged.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International