A former Indonesian maid stayed in Hong Kong as a refugee claimant and is living with her son in a subdivided apartment. Photo: Google Maps

A former Indonesian maid said she had no choice but to seek asylum in Hong Kong several years ago as she was afraid her husband would hurt or even kill her if she went back to her home country.

Irene, who came to Hong Kong a decade ago, said she had married a man she had never met upon her parents’ orders when she was 18, HK01 Newspaper reported in a feature story on Monday. After one year, she gave birth to a baby boy, but her unemployed husband demanded money from her. He beat her when she refused to give him her salary that she earned in a garment factory.

As village leaders and police officers failed to save her from domestic violence, she moved to Hong Kong and started working as a maid.

In Hong Kong, she fell in love with a South Asian man who was a refugee claimant. She stayed at his home after she lost her job. At 28, she gave birth to her second son with this man, but discovered he was having affairs with other women. She decided to leave him and stay in Hong Kong as a refugee claimant. 

She and her son, 4, are now living in a subdivided apartment with assistance from the International Social Service and Hong Kong  government food coupons.

According to a 2015 report by PathFinders, a non-governmental organization that helps migrant workers, about half of 242 domestic workers who had given birth in Hong Kong had expired visas or had sought asylum. Their children can study in the city but cannot enjoy permanent residency unless their fathers are permanent residents.

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