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Hong Kong: No Good Choices - A Domestic Worker's Fight for Justice

Hong Kong: No Good Choices - A Domestic Worker's Fight for Justice

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by Khairil Yusof published Oct 14, 2014 10:25 PM
Hong Kong is home to hundreds of thousands of women from Indonesia and the Philippines who work as “helpers” in pursuit of meager wealth. They are an indispensable part of the city’s vibrant economy and society. But incidents of abuse often stay hidden from public view. Follow one woman’s tale as she seeks to put her life back together after a horrific crime.

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HONG KONG -

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Over the next seven weeks, he cornered her repeatedly, sexually assaulting her in the kitchen and raping her in the bathroom of the 650-square-foot apartment, which was home to a family of five.

“I was treated like an animal and I had to serve him as if I was his wife,” the maid, a diminutive woman with a quiet voice, said in a later interview. “I really could not accept it.”

Yet she faced no good choices in what to do – a problem when things go wrong for the more than 325,000 maids from poor countries who work in Hong Kong and at times face brutal treatment and abuse.

And if she turned in her assailant to the police and pursued a case – a daunting prospect given her limited familiarity with the local language and with the city – she would not be able to work until the case was resolved without special government permission because of a Hong Kong policy meant to discourage false complaints.

That predicament, advocates say, leaves maids vulnerable and near-powerless when they face mistreatment and can embolden employers to treat them badly.

“The system is so weighted against domestic helpers,” said Melville Boase, a solicitor in Hong Kong who has represented maids for three decades. “These ladies are not here for a get-rich scheme. Most of them are here to support their families,” he said.


Photo: Billy H.C. Kwok/WSJ (Screen Capture)

Read the original article in full: No Good Choices: A Maid's Fight for Justice | WSJ

Source: Deb Price, Chester Yung and Sara Schonhardt/Wall Street Journal

Story Type: Story

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