A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog
If you’ve been awake over the past week in Hong Kong, I’m sure you heard of Erwiana, an Indonesian maid who’s story has dominated the news, in a sad story of how she was repeatedly beaten by her employers for more than half a year.
While this story sickens me, there are some obvious positives to come from it. The Hong Kong community is making a real push to change the laws and enforce the so-called rules that have been in place to protect Hong Kong’s helpers.
Hong Kong has just over 300,000 domestic helpers with the majority coming from the Philippines and Indonesia. This massive demongraphic plays an essential part in so many Hong Kong people’s lives, yet they are treated on the cusp of slavery.
Erwiana’s case is one of many, but this one crossed the tipping point between abuse and potential manslaughter, so it has fortunately gotten the attention of international media and has people in a stir.
Speaking with my domestic helper, she said that she is told stories of abuse almost daily. For example a helper in our building isn’t allowed to have a phone. I’m not talking about using a phone during work hours, I mean she can’t have a phone! So calling her daughter back in the Philippines isn’t nearly frequent or easy enough.
She’s not allowed out of her cage, I mean room, past 9 in the evening. She’s on call 24/7 and feels so guilty if she ever takes a break.
Ridiculously, helpers in Hong Kong must live with their employers, which puts them at their employer’s mercy, and so often this ’employment’ is more like ownership.
I really hope and expect that this terrible occurrence will continue to cause an uproar in the Hong Kong community and that we will see significant improvements.
Online movements by the Hong Wrong Blog (@hongwrongblog) and HK Helpers Campaign (@hkhelpers) are making a real effort to stand up against these injustices. I hope you’ll follow them on twitter and continue to help raise awareness.
With our full time domestic helper, our family is always going the extra step to ensure her happiness, whether it be through extra days off or surprise gifts. The last thing we want is for someone in our home not to be happy.
What’s your take? What do you do that is beyond what is expected for your helper? Something that really shows how much you appreciate her work?
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