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.
DL, a 24-year-old woman trafficked from Ponorogo to Hong Kong (2012- ), describes how debts impacted her life.
I find out after arriving in Hong Kong that my main job was not taking care of an elderly woman, but working at the market. I had to carry vegetables to Tai Po market to sell and collect rubbish three times per week. Without gloves, I had to pick through the rubbish to find items that could be recycled. I then carried them, which were often very heavy, to a centre where I could sell them. It was truly horrible work, but I remained because I needed to pay off my recruitment fees.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International