BLOG – ‘Live-in’ Rule Hurts Helpers & Employers 8

This week, 20 immigration officers visited Ma Wan village on Park Island to arrest four domestic workers, whose crime was living under a different roof than their employers.

Two employers of one of the women were also arrested and later released on bail. The male employer told the South China Morning Post: “Some employers that have a live-in nanny make them work up to 18 hours a day and some I know don’t even get a day off.”

An immigration officer reported that the four women were arrested on suspicion of making false representations to an immigration officer. Under clause three of the standard employment contract, both parties agree that the domestic worker will live at the same premises as the employer.

According to the Hong Kong Labour Department, infringing clause three is akin to making a false representation to an immigration officer, and carries a maximum punishment of $150,000 in fines and 14 years in prison. Domestic workers accused of the same could be black-listed and deported. By contrast, in the recent trial against a local Hong Kong employer for grievous bodily harm with intent, the accused faces a maximum jail time of seven years if found guilty.


EVENT – ‘The Vagina Monologues’ – in support of HK Helpers Campaign

We are very pleased and proud to announce that all ticket proceeds from this year’s V-Day performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ will go directly to HK Helpers Campaign. Thank you to the producers, actresses and crew for volunteering their time for this event.

Performances will be held between February 11th and 14th at 8pm each night at the Premium Sofa Club, 212-216 Wing Lok Street (West Side) Basement, Fui Nam Building, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong [Map].

Tickets available now online for HK$200 (or $250 on the door). All proceeds will go to support HK Helpers Campaign’s three, simple, winnable campaign points.


VIDEO – Hong Kong’s ‘Unsung Heroes’ Choir

In this moving short film, ‘Unsung Heroes’ – a community choir for domestic workers – present their original song, ‘I Wish I Could Kiss You Goodnight’ .

The song expresses the difficulties domestic workers face in being away from their families in order to care for other people’s families abroad…


NEWS – “She Slept on the Floor”: Defendant’s Son Testifies at Erwiana Abuse Trial

The son of Law Wan-tung, the woman who stands accused of abusing Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and two other Indonesian women who worked in her home, testified at the District Court yesterday that he did not see his mother be physically violent with the women.

The court heard 18-year-old Edward Tsui Wing-kit describe how the women, who worked for his mother at different periods between 2011 and 2014, would typically still be cleaning when he went to bed at midnight.

Tsui said that he could not recall if any of the women were working when he woke up at 7am to prepare for school. He did not know how many hours a day the women worked.


NEWS – Myanmar Agency Still Sending Helpers to HK Despite Ban

The Myanmar Times reports that a Burmese employment agency is still sending women to work in Hong Kong despite a government ban. The Myanmar authorities halted the departure of domestic workers to Hong Kong as abuse cases dominated local headlines last May.

Some Burmese helpers are now having second thoughts about working in Hong Kong. According to the Labour Rights Clinic, a Myanmar-based NGO, two women wishing to withdraw from their Hong Kong contracts are under financial pressure from the Gold Mine employment agency which recruited them. One woman reported facing a penalty of K1.6 million (about US$1660) if she breaks her contract.

“We’ve heard bad things about Hong Kong. My mother is worried and doesn’t want me to go there any more. But we can’t afford K1.6 million,” She told the Myanmar Times.

Burmese helpers arrive at the airport last year

Burmese helpers arrive at the airport last year


Accused Employer Was Allowed to Hire Erwiana Despite Earlier Complaints

A previous employee of the woman on trial for allegedly torturing Indonesian helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has testified that Law Wan-tung was allowed to hire new domestic workers despite previous complaints of abuse.

A 'Justice for Erwiana' rally last March.

A ‘Justice for Erwiana’ rally last March.

Tutik Lestari Ningsih worked for Law in her Tai Kok Tsui home for almost a year in 2010. She told the court that she was repeatedly slapped and kicked in the thighs by the defendant and that she was not the first of Law’s employees to suffer physical assault.

“She had done such things to previous helpers,” she said.

Tutik claims her employment agency told her of Law’s reputation when she complained of the abuse. Tutik also said that the agent spoke of how Law would struggle to find another domestic worker because she changed them so frequently.


NEWS – In Torture Trial, Defence Suggests Helper’s Injuries Were Caused By Acne

The second day of the trial against Law Wan-tung continued on Tuesday with Erwiana Sulistyaningsih returning to the witness stand. Law – who is accused of torturing her helper Erwiana, faces 20 charges – including actual bodily harm with intent and criminal intimidation.

Erwiana shared further details with the court about her life in the home of Law Wan-tung. She told the court that she was punched in the mouth, causing her teeth to break, and was sometimes hit in her sleep. She also shared details about an incident in which she alleges Law stripped her naked, sprayed her with cold water from the shower and switched on a fan for several hours.

“I had to sleep on the floor” Erwiana told the court as she described her living conditions in Law’s flat.


NEWS – “I Was Tortured”: Erwiana Testifies Against Former Employer

On the first day of the trial of her former employer Law Wan-tung, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih testified to a full court room that her employer repeatedly beat her with hangers, mops, ladders, and rulers.

The court room let out a collective gasp when Erwiana explained that she was only allowed to sleep for four hours in the afternoon, and was required to work throughout the night. Erwiana said she once fell asleep from exhaustion while vacuuming and was woken by her employer, who forced a vacuum cleaner tube into her mouth and twisted it while it was still running.

“I was tortured,” said Erwiana through a translator.


NEWS – Despite UN Pressure, HK Refuses to Change Discriminatory Policies

The treatment of migrant domestic workers was a major concern in the UN’s recent consultation with Hong Kong on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which took place in early November.

Though CEDAW was extended to Hong Kong in 1996 while it was still under British rule, the People’s Republic of China has entered seven reservations concerning the implementation of CEDAW in Hong Kong due to ‘special circumstances.’ One such reservation regards Article 11 (2) on maternal care.

A delegation of nine representatives from Hong Kong under Permanent Secretary Annie Tam attended the 59th CEDAW consultation in Geneva from October 20th to November 7th.

A decade of condemnation from international bodies 


NEWS – Domestic Workers Share Their Thoughts on Occupy Central 1

HK Helpers Campaign volunteers Meredith McBride & Vivian Yan spoke to some of the city’s domestic worker community about the Umbrella Movement occupation protests.

Catherine, from the Philippines, has been living in Hong Kong for 3 years.

“The protesters want this fight and are against China. Maybe they can help us to make… law[s] in favour of the domestic workers? Maybe for me, I am in favour of the protesters because they really fight for their rights, for their democracy.  They make a lot of sacrifices so I hope they win.”