There are an estimated 10,000 people living in modern slavery in Hong Kong (GSI 2018). Approximately 370,000 foreign domestic workers, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines, work in Hong Kong; some become victims of forced labour in the private homes in which they are employed. An NGO report released in 2016 estimated as many as one in six foreign domestic workers is a victim of labour exploitation. Employment agencies often charge job placement fees in excess of legal limits, and sometimes withhold identity documents, which may lead to situations of debt bondage of workers in Hong Kong. The accumulated debts sometimes amount to a significant portion of the worker’s first year salary. Some employers or employment agencies illegally withhold passports, employment contracts, or other possessions until the debt is paid. Some workers are required to work up to 17 hours per day, experience verbal, sexual or physical abuse in the home, and/or are not granted a legally required weekly day off.
FI, a 29-year-old woman from Wonosobo (2012- ), recounted how the head of a recruitment agency in Indonesia had threatened her when she did not repay all her fees.
The agency boss complained and threatened that the “bank” – it’s actually the finance company in Hong Kong – will go to my family and ask for the remaining money. In fact, people did go to my parents’ house to ask for the money, but they don’t have any money. So far, I received eight warning letters from the company, which were all sent to my employer’s house. That clearly creates big problems for me because my employer gets annoyed and thinks I’m getting myself into financial problems.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International