Are You An Abused Helper? Here’s What To Do

Are You An Abused Helper? Here’s What To Do

Date Posted: 12/06/2020

 

I sent money to buy milk and medicine — my child is sick now with a fever. I thought Hong Kong was the right place for the helper,” she said while her eyes were filled with tears. “I thought so.” This is a heartbreaking statement of an abused helper in Hong Kong.

 

In the past few years, numerous reports of mistreatment and abuse have been recorded. Those cruel acts that are happening behind doors are frightening for Foreign Domestic Worker FDWs.

 

Although there are several ways it could be reported, FDWs often choose not to, since they are not allowed to work while a case is ongoing. This sad reality hinders many abused helpers as they can’t afford to stop working for their families.

 

Policies like the 2-week rule and the live-in policy also add to the number of unreported FDWs abused cases.

 

Abuse to FDWs is a disturbing reality in Hong Kong.

 

Abuse comes in many forms like:

 

  • Financial abuse
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Passports are confiscated by employers or employment agencies
  • Exploitative working conditions
  • Unable to eat proper and enough food and adequate rest

 

 

If you experience any of the above, here is what you can do:

 

1. Don’t forget to always keep receipts and records of wages. If your employer demands on keeping your ATM card, you have to report it to the bank and cancel the ATM card.

 

Apply for a new one. This may be risky and could lead you to be dismissed. You can collect evidence of your employer’s violation and file a complaint after your employment is terminated or when your contract expires.

 

2. Keep records of maltreatment incidents and abuse by your employer. The records should include dates, times, and places.

 

3. If your employer forces you to work outside the terms of the employment contract, you should notify the Immigration Department right away with no delay.

 

If you continue to allow this unlawful situation because of sympathy, you might be at risk of prosecution as you’re following your employer’s order. Collect all of the supporting evidence you can.

 

4. For any physical abuse, you have to seek medical attention first. This evidence is the best you can have for filing a case and pressing charges later. Also, take photos of the injured area and keep copies of medical records.

 

5. Ask help from the police and show evidence. Have a report reference number for follow-ups. You will also need that information when you file a claim with the Labour Department.

 

While reporting to the police, keep these in mind:

 

  • Be clear with your statement and review it thoroughly before signing. Make sure that every detail is accurate.
  • You have the right to change anything on the written statement if you think it’s incomplete or incorrect.
  • Make sure that the statement is in a language you can read and understand.
  • You are entitled to an interpreter if necessary.
  • Be consistent with your statement. If you cannot remember the exact detail, such as time, date, and place, never ever make them up.
  • Have all the copies of your written statement and anything you sign. Remember that you have the right to obtain one and don’t accept any excuses.

 

After reporting the incident, you have the right to keep updated by the police with the progress.

 

 

Here is the list of organizations that aims to help FDWs in Hong Kong:

 

  1. Christian Action Center for Domestic Migrant Worker— they give shelter, psychological and legal support and protection to FDWs.
  2. Enrich- provides an education that aims to promote the economic and financial empowerment for FDWs
  3. HELP for Domestic Workers- offers free advice and support regarding human rights issues of domestic workers in Hong Kong.
  4. Mission for Migrant Workers (MMW) helps FDWs in Hong Kong on crisis intervention and prevention. They provide emergency shelter and food assistance to foreign domestic helpers. Aside from that, they also give empowering services and skills-building classes to abused FDWs.
  5. Pathfinders offer support to pregnant FDWs, vulnerable mothers, and their children. You can rely on them to gain access to health care, legal protections, and emergency accommodation.
  6. The Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (ACSBAW) or Rainlily focuses on women who are a victim of sexual abuse. They offer medical examination and psychological support. You can call them on their hotline, and they also have a crisis centre.

 

Knowledge is really a power. Remember these tips on what you can do if you are experiencing any of the horrific abuse mentioned above.

 

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