TVB reports on the difficulties facing domestic workers who fall pregnant in Hong Kong. Part I:
Pro-Beijing politician Regina Ip has removed a controversial column from her blog and Facebook related to the sex lives of domestic workers. In the piece, also printed in Ming Pao, she decried the international media for “exaggerating” the Erwiana abuse case and made reference to the recent suicide of a teenager.
Dr. Anna Guevarra is the Director, Asian American Studies, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She spoke at the Human Rights Tribunal related to the abuse of a Filipino domestic worker who joined a Hong Kong family in Canada. She is an expert in immigrant labour; global carework (specifically domestic work, with a focus on Hong Kong); gender and migration; Filipino and Philippine studies; race and ethnicity. Her report was submitted as evidence and is reproduced – in full – from court records below.
 Dr. Guevarra’s report says that the stereotypes or prejudices that apply to Filipino domestic workers revolve around characteristics that mark them as “docile” workers. That is, Filipino domestic workers are often marketed as obedient, hardworking, Godfearing, loyal, honest, cooperative, and compliant. At the same time, she says that they are also promoted as highly educated, skilled, and exhibiting a high tolerance for stressful conditions.
 Dr. Guevarra says that, in general, Hong Kong employers typically stereotype foreign domestic workers, and especially Filipino women, as carrying a particular kind of “modernized” sensibility that makes them morally suspect. Hong Kong employers are said to perceive Filipino domestic workers’ sense of independence and readiness to leave 7 their families in the Philippines not as a sign of filial piety, but instead, as a sign of financial desperation that could lead to acts of transgression. She notes that these perceived transgressions are often of sexual nature, such as seducing a male member of the household or engaging in sideline sex work for the purposes of permanent residence and financial security. Thus, the Filipino workers are often seen as a threat to the female employer of the household. As a result, Filipino domestic workers’ physical appearance or attractiveness, such as their clothing, hairstyle, and physical adornments have all become routinely subject to scrutiny and discipline.
A Filipino domestic worker has been awarded HK$339,412 (CAD55,000) at a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which said she was held as a “virtual slave” by her Hong Kong employers.
The family brought the mother of two, known as “PN” to Canada with them in 2013. The husband was found to have been sexually assaulting her and the wife humiliated and abused her in a hotel suite they stayed in while house-hunting. The children also made fun of her.
Thank you to all who donated to the JusticeForElis.com campaign. On Tuesday, Mission for Migrant Workers passed on HK$45,030 (after PayPal and bank fees) to Elis’s family.
This sum will make a huge difference to the family and give them some breathing room as they consider their legal options. HK Helpers Campaign and Mission for Migrant Workers are grateful to all of those who took the time to donate. Thank you everyone once again for your amazing generosity!
Discovery Bay domestic worker Liza Avelino will pack her specialist climbing gear next month as she heads to Nepal for a 22-day Himalayan trekking expedition up to Everest Base Camp. Liza will be raising funds for local NGO Enrich.
Dressed in black and wearing headbands, up to 300 domestic workers protested outside the Indonesian Consulate in Causeway Bay demanding Justice for Elis. Elis, a domestic worker from Indonesia, died tragically after a 60kg concrete block fell on her at the Sunlight Agency hostel where she was staying.
They demanded changes to the Indonesian Government rules that require all domestic workers to be employed through agencies. This, they say allows for exploitation of domestic workers as the agencies are often unregulated, or regulations are unenforced.
The JusticeForElis.com campaign has so far raised over HK$20,000 for Elis Kurniasih’s family.
Elis, a domestic worker, died after being crushed by a concrete blog at her agency accommodation. Mission for Migrant Workers reported that her family was under pressure from the agency and Indonesian authorities to ‘settle’ rather than pursue legal action against those responsible.
The final amount will be sent to Elis’s mother in Indonesia next Tuesday. If a transfer proves difficult, a member of the Mission for Migrant Workers team who is due to visit the family soon will pass on the donations in person.
Elis’s body will be repatriated next Thursday. Elis was divorced and leaves behind two children and elderly parents, whom she was supporting in Hong Kong.
Mission for Migrant Workers & HK Helpers Campaign would like to extend a big thank you to all who kindly donated.
A rally will be held this Sunday, March 22nd at 3pm, beginning at the Indonesian Consulate in Causeway Bay.
The dress code is all black in honour of Elis.
Download a placard:
“This is a murder,” said Eni Lestari, who heads the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body. She told the crowd that Elis had been charged two months of her salary to change employers in Hong Kong, and that her death was not a normal accident, but the result of human neglect. Elis was residing at the agency because her employer had decided not to hire her for another two months.
A 33-year-old Indonesian domestic worker is in a critical condition after being crushed by a falling 60kg concrete block.
Elis Kurniasih, employed by Sun Light Employment Agency, was in a boarding house provided by the agency. A concrete base of an air conditioner fell on her as she prayed at 5am in the morning. The incident resulted in massive bleeding a broken spine, according to a Mission For Migrant Workers spokesperson, who added that conditions at the boarding house were said to be “terrible”.