Author Archives : Tom Grundy

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 – 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 – Helper’s Son, Born & Raised in HK, Barred from Gaining Permanent Residency 2

A son of a Filipino domestic worker, who was born-and-raised in Hong Kong, has lost his fight for permanent residency. Five judges at the Court of Final Appeal agreed unanimously that Joseph James Gutierrez, 17, does not qualify for permanent residency under Article 24 of the Basic Law.

BxuchPN.jpg (956×427)

His mother, Josephine Gutierrez, has worked in Hong Kong as a helper since 1991. Joseph had been present in the city for more than 7 years, with only short gaps as he visited the Philippines. The judges said that he did not meet the criteria for being “ordinarily” resident.

APPEAL – Writer? Translator? Lobbyist? Volunteer for HK Helpers Campaign 1

HK Helpers Campaign VolunteerHK Helpers Campaign is a successful and much-needed platform fighting for the rights of domestic workers in Hong Kong. To continue our work, our multimedia advocacy and legal project needs more hands on deck.

Keeping up momentum

  • Over the past nine months, our campaign has worked with dozens of journalists and media outlets to raise awareness of the challenges domestic workers face.
  • Professional photographers and videographers have linked with us to help shape the debate and shine a more positive light on the local helper community.
  • Our campaign has been featured on CNN and in the Wall Street Journal, Quartz, the Guardian, the South China Morning Post and others.
  • Our website is a respected hub for breaking news, research and events information whilst our legal team is assembling cases to challenge the law.
  • We are now hosting support information for the community in six different languages.
  • This summer, we were officially registered as a society and began work on our Chinese website launch.
HK Helpers Campaign 2013-2014

HK Helpers Campaign 2013-2014

Volunteer appeal

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 – 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.

PHOTOGRAPHY – Domestic Worker & Photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani

Filipino domestic worker Xyza Cruz Bacani shares her black and white street photography with HK Helpers Campaign.

Xyza had been working for an ageing Chinese-Australian woman in a wealthy part of Hong Kong. However, this month she was awarded the Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholarship and is begin studying at New York University…

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.