A prominent labor organisation has called for the Hong Kong government to provide more assistance to domestic workers who overstay to seek justice in sexual abuse cases.
The Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions says many workers fear speaking out about sexual abuse as they are scared of losing their jobs, and even if they pursue justice, since they cannot continue to work, they are unable to send money home to their families.
29-year-old Filipina domestic worker Anna (not her real name) overstayed in Hong Kong after terminating her contract because her former employer indecently assaulted her, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Anna came to Hong Kong for the first time last year to work for a retired man. On only her second day at work, the male employer insisted on giving her a massage “to welcome her”. Anna was puzzled, especially when the employer touched her bottom, and she became suspicious of the man’s behavior.
On her third day at work, the employer molested her, but she did not make a police report as she had no evidence. From then on, the employer repeatedly touched her indecently and kissed her.
Ten days into her job, Anna went with her employer’s family to Thailand, where she videotaped an assault that took place in her hotel room. When she returned to Hong Kong, she texted messages to a friend to report her case to the police.
Anna terminated her contract after working for her employer for only 17 days.
According to Hong Kong law, a domestic worker is permitted to remain in Hong Kong for not more than two weeks after the premature termination of a work contract, after which the worker must return to her home country to lodge another work visa application. She cannot legally work while she remains in Hong Kong to pursue justice.
As Anna needed to stay in Hong Kong to help the police investigation, her employment agency arranged housing and gave her a living allowance. However she had no idea when this assistance might stop.
There were three rape cases and 31 indecent assault cases reported by domestic workers in Hong Kong last year, according to figures from the Hong Kong Police.
The Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions has urged the Hong Kong government to provide housing and a living allowance to domestic workers who decide to stay in the city to pursue justice and to allow them to look for a new employer.