NEWS – Judge Rejects Appeal by Couple Convicted of “Inhuman” Torture

The couple who tortured Indonesian helper Kartika Puspitasari have had their appeal rejected by a judge who called their behaviour “inhuman“. Tai Chi-wai and Catherine Au Yuk-shan were convicted of eight counts of assault last year. They received jail sentences of three years and three months, and five years and six months, respectively. During the trial, the court heard how the couple beat Kartika with hot irons, a paper cutter, a shoe, a hanger and bicycle chains.

A protest at t he Indonesian consulate last summer

A protest at t he Indonesian consulate last summer

Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, the Court of Appeal’s vice-president, said that the court had a duty to protect foreign worker’s rights. “…they used severe ways to torture another parents’ daughter [Kartika]… Hong Kong is a modern, civilised city and is serious about human rights. We will not tolerate these inhuman acts as the couple did to the victim”, Yeung said.


NEWS – Civil Servant Guilty of Causing Actual Bodily Harm to Domestic Worker

On September 1 the District Court convicted former civil servant Au Wai-chun of causing actual bodily harm to Begum Raksona, a woman from Bangladesh who did domestic work in her home. The incident occurred in September last year at Au’s home at Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O. The court heard that a dispute arose when Au became angry that a cup of water given to her by Raksona was not hot enough.

Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O

Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O, via Wikicommons


NEWS – 117 Student Activists Lobby Gov Committee to Limit Helper Working Hours 1

Student activists at International Christian School in Sha Tin have submitted 117 campaign postcards to the Standard Working Hours Committee.

students take action

The young justice advocates worked with HK Helpers Campaign to lobby the government committee to include domestic workers in Hong Kong’s upcoming legislation limiting working hours. Currently, helpers – like all local workers – can be made to work unlimited hours. Many domestic workers are indeed expected to be ‘on call’ 24/7.


VIDEO – The HK Domestic Workers Who Are Budding Writers

Whilst one local domestic worker has become a famed street photographer, others are trying their hand at writing. HKU student Peter Sabine has produced a short news piece about domestic workers who are documenting their experiences through writing. Cahaya Qu, a local Indonesian magazine run by Susie Utomo, is serving as a hub for budding writers who want to assist other helpers in putting pen to paper.

Utomo spoke last year at the Hong Kong Literary Festival, as reported by HK Helpers Campaign.


NEWS – New Survey Finds 97% of Filipino Helpers Are Burdened by Debt

Last Sunday, domestic worker NGO Enrich administered a survey amongst 100 migrant women. While the overall atmosphere at Charter Garden was cheerful with colourful dancing parades the survey painted an alarming picture of the financial situation of many migrant women in Hong Kong.

Helper debt

Most migrant women arrive in Hong Kong to work and save money in order to secure a better and brighter future for themselves and their families. Generally women save for things like their children’s education, a house, capital for business or a comfortable retirement.


NEWS – Building Bans Domestic Helper Residents From Own Clubhouse 2

A residential building in Yau Ma Tei has attempted to ban domestic worker residents from its clubhouse as their presence may ‘induce nuisance’ and affect the rights of other residents on Sundays. The sign was posted by management company Hong Yip Service Company (owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties) at their ‘No.8 The Waterloo‘ development. It told residents not to allow their helpers to use access cards during their holidays. However, domestic workers are themselves residents and – by law – have no choice but to live with their employers in the building.

Hung Yip Service Company

Hong Yip Service Company notice – click for full blingual version.

News of the policy emerged after a local resident complained to a local NGO. Asking to remain anonymous, he said “To categorise a group of people as a ‘nuisance’ based on their occupation is absolutely disgusting… What is the difference between a crowd of domestic helpers and a crowd of people who are not?” Although he said understood that having groups of visitors in the clubhouse may be undesirable, he noted that helpers have little place to go on their day off owing to their meagre salaries.


EVENTS – SAR Philharmonic Orchestra Fundraiser for Pathfinders on June 23rd

The SAR Philharmonic is playing for free a one-night charity concert for PathFinders (websiteFacebookdonate) on June 23rd. Pathfinders helps migrant children born in crisis in Hong Kong – most clients are former domestic helpers. The children are amongst the poorest and most needy in the city and Pathfinders helps the babies and kids by helping the mothers.

Seats cost HK$500 – it will be held at the Grand Hall, Lee Shau Kee Centre, HKU at 7pm, June 23rd. Facebook event.

ueVyPAv.jpg (640×442)

A recent story from Pathfinders…


VIDEO – ‘The Coming Out of Filipino Domestic Workers’

A post via HKU JMSC’s Domestic Worker Project, by Stephanie Burnett, Kevin Dharmawan and Thandiwe Moyo.

Domestic helpers in Hong Kong are known for the challenges they face – like having low wages and only one day off a week. But ironically, many Filipino helpers are feeling liberated. That’s because they can be more open about their lesbian partnerships, and they’re coming out to their families back home.


BLOG – When Indonesian Domestic Workers Sue

Dr Carol Tan is Reader in Law at SOAS in London where she teaches a course on migrant labour and the law and where she was also previously Chair of the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies. Calling upon extensive research and interviews of domestic workers, Dr Tan looks at how despite the fact that breaches of contract are common, a domestic worker wishing to find redress faces many challenges and only some domestic workers manage to sue their employers. She discusses what we can learn about enforcing rights from looking at the stories of how domestic workers became litigants. Two of her papers can be found on our resources page.