Category Archives : News


Hong Kong Agency that Placed Erwiana Still Allowed to Recruit Domestic Workers 1

Chan’s Asia Employment Agency, which placed Erwiana with her employer Law Wan-tung, is still recruiting Indonesian helpers to place in Hong Kong homes. Erwiana was placed with her employer after two previous domestic workers left within six weeks and six months respectively. The Hong Kong Labour Department stated that it found “insufficient evidence” that Chan’s Asia had violated regulations under the Labour Department.

Ms. Lo Fung Chi was the manager of Chan’s Asia Recruitment Agency during the time in question and was a witness for the prosecution that helped find Law Wan-tung guilty of abusing Erwiana and another domestic worker. She left Chan’s Asia shortly after police took her statement in April of last year.

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On Erwiana’s contract, Chan’s Asia Employment Agency was named as her employer. Defence lawyers for Law told the court that the agency had kept both Erwiana’s passport and HKID, though the agency denied that it kept Erwiana’s documents. During the trial, the court heard that in order to send Erwiana home to Indonesia, Law lied to the agency, telling them she was taking Erwiana on a trip to China, in order to retrieve her documents from them.

The Honourable Judge Amanda Woodcock found that the testimony of two agents was “measured and deliberate” and served to avoid implicating themselves in any criminal wrong-doing.


NEWS – Justice Served: Former Employer found Guilty on 18 Charges

The packed court room broke into applause after Judge Amanda Woodcock convicted Hong Kong woman Law-Wan-tung on 18 charges for inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, assault and criminal intimidation of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and Tutik Lestari Ningsih.

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“I am sure she (Erwiana) was telling the truth,” said Judge Woodcock as she read her findings the room full of journalists, activists, and friends. “I believe her testimony in its entirety,” citing credibility as a crucial issue in her findings.

“When she left Hong Kong, she was a shadow of her former self,” said Judge Woodcock, citing Erwiana’s sunken eyes, swollen eyes and faces and wounds. Some of Erwiana’s injuries were caused by prolonged exposure to water and cleaning solutions, however over a dozen other injuries were not accounted for by this explanation. The attempt by the defense to pass Erwiana’s skin problems off as acne were “desperate and fanciful constructions,” said Woodcock.


INTERVIEW – ‘No One is Just a Worker’: Exclusive Interview with Author Nicole Constable on Hong Kong’s Domestic Workers

Dr. Nicole Constable, the author of ‘Born out of Place’ and ‘Maid to Order in Hong Kong’, shares her research on Hong Kong’s domestic workers. She discusses their struggles to maintain a balance between family life and work, the decision some domestic workers make to work illegally in Hong Kong, and the social exclusion and discrimination they often face.  

Dr. Nicole Constable

Dr. Nicole Constable

HK Helpers: A premise of your book is how difficult it is for domestic workers to be both a good worker and a good wife/mother/daughter. How does the requirement that domestic workers ‘live-in’ affect the family life of domestic workers even when they are already far from home?

Nicole Constable: It depends a lot on the conditions of the live in situation. If the situation is good and the worker has time off and privacy and enough hours to sleep and the ability to keep in touch with a family back home, it sometimes isn’t too bad – especially if she is being paid her legal salary. If she has, in the worst situation, no privacy and is not allowed to use a phone or contact her children or spouse during the week, it can be a serious problem for them. It means they don’t have the same support network and they are not as happy as they would be as workers if they were able to live out or have more privacy and time to themselves.

If they were able to live out, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem because they can keep in touch with family members regularly on their own, without someone overhearing what they’re saying or misinterpreting their tone of voice. The contact with people back home is such an important source of support and pleasure and the well-being of workers that if they were able to have live out or have better conditions as live-in, they would better balance the life of being a worker and still being a family member at home.

The problem is, often they are expected to be workers 24-7 or be on call as workers 24-7 and the live in situation perpetuates that kind of set-up. If they were allowed to live out, I think potentially they would be much better and much happier workers that have more balanced lives.

HKH: Did the women you interviewed complain about their living conditions in Hong Kong?

NC: My earlier book, Maid to Order in Hong Kong, was based partly on interviews with them and speaking with women at the Mission for Migrant workers and I heard many, many, many complaints about work conditions and housing conditions and I saw many pictures of very unpleasant places where people were forced to sleep. I kept in touch with many different organizations and people in the wider domestic worker community that had a lot of access to what I would consider very inappropriate housing.


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