HELPERS – Helper Treated “Like a Slave” by Hong Kong Family Awarded HK$339,412 by Canadian Court

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.

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Catherin McCreary wrote in her decision that PN was “was isolated, underfed and treated like she was sub-human; all because she was a young Filipino mother who needed the job to take care of her own children. I would like to think that this behaviour does not occur in B.C.”

PN was 28 at the time and was paid the equivalent of HK$3702 in Hong Kong to work from 5:30am to 11pm. Her wages for docked for sitting down and she was made to eat while standing.

via Stefan Irvine

via Stefan Irvine

She was pressured to join the family in Canada, though the sexual assaults began in Hong Kong as the husband turned off their home’s CCTV and made the helper stroke his penis. PN was warned that she would be sent home if she told anyone and that she should think of her children.

The helper escaped on August 18th, 2013 after pretending to take out the garbage. She had no money, passport or extra clothing and she knew no-one.

The Canadian police initially told her that the jurisdiction for solving her problem was in Hong Kong.Eventually she made her way to a safe house for victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

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HK Helpers Campaign’s legal advisor Rob Tibbo says that Hong Kong did have some responsibility for the domestic worker as she was working under a Hong Kong contract, through a Hong Kong agency registered with the Hong Kong government. Tibbo added that the woman has the right to sue the family in Hong Kong.

PN received HK$339,412 in damages in British Colombia to compensate for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect, as well as lost wages. The family have since returned to Hong Kong.

See also, Part 2: Canadian Tribunal Hears From Expert on Prejudice in Hong Kong