Social Injustice



Search  
ORIGINAL POST
Posted by Justice4all 9 yrs ago
Whether or not Hong Kongers would like to solve or face the problem, 1000s of Domestic Helpers (DHs) from Southeast Asia suffer daily from gross abuses of their basic human rights. This is in clear violation of international laws as recognized by the United Nations as well as a number of historical treaties which many Chinese citizens seem to think they incredibly get to ignore. Somehow, the color of the skin, the scars on many of their bodies from a hard life, the shape of the face and body, or the flow of their long black hair is seen as less than human amongst the locals which leads them to enslave, like dogs, those who are less fortunate and have no other place to turn if they'd like to support their loved ones back home. This may be seen as a choice by some, however, have you ever been faced with the “choice” of starvation? There seems to be NO choice if faced by the decision whether to put food in your children's mouths while you suffer abuse at your boss's hand or watch your babies' stomachs bloat with the emptiness of their bodies eating themselves, knowing you could be doing something about their hunger.


Sure, a choice to make money for your family seems like an obvious no-brainer for most people, but what about the question of basic human rights? Should we even be given the right to go into dehumanizing slavery at the cost of our own physical and mental health? There are supposed to be DH laws in Hong Kong to protect their rights, so who's enforcing these? Where is the justice that is supposed to go along with a civilized society? Why are some DHs still forced to work 14-hour days 6 or 7 days a week when the law says there is a maximum workday of 10 hours and only 6 days per week? Perhaps time cards or ID scanners and cameras need to be instituted into homes at employers' expense if they are using a DH worker so as to monitor holiday times and ensure their workers are getting the full 24 hours required by the government-mandated contract. In addition, the cards should be swiped at the beginning and end of each day's ten-hour shift and the worker has the right to refuse to work after their shift is over without risk of being fired. If the worker must work after hours, they must swipe the card and be paid overtime. It should be as simple as this just like for any other worker. People are not property and they shouldn't be treated as such. An employee is a person with rights like anyone else. Violate those rights and you get the right to be penalized with jail time or fines. Sound fair?


I have met Indonesians and Filipinos who were fed the previous week's food with the expectation that the “lower life form” would be able to handle the disease growing in the old, bacteria-riddled meat or fungus-rotted vegetables. Others have been given snack foods that were several months past their expiration date. The workers got sick, of course, from the stale, rotten food like any other normal human being would. But what choice did they have if they didn't want to starve or be fired? They weren't given the choice of healthy food and they couldn't go out to buy their own food. And were they allowed to see a doctor after the employer forced illness upon them? This is how we feed animals, folks. Pigs and dogs are supposed to eat this way, not people. Some animals have the stomachs to handle it because they were made to eat garbage as scavengers. People do not! In some cases, if the helper buys their own food with their own hard-earned money, their boss will take the food away from them and refuse to let them eat it. Is that right or moral? Are we in North Korea? If you are one of these Hong Kongers guilty of these crimes against your SE Asian sisters, you should be totally ashamed of yourselves.


Most household “bosses” don't even provide adequate equipment for the workers to do their job. Many workers have cracking, burning or even bleeding hands from washing with chemicals and detergents all the time without gloves, especially in the winter. Gloves should be a necessity at the bare minimum. They are so cheap and can protect the workers' hands so they can continue to perform well for their employer without the risk of getting infections in their hands.


More unbelievably, I have talked to agencies and several workers who claimed multiple domestic helpers were pushed out of windows to their death by the same employer. Need I remind anyone that this is known as MURDER in the civilized world? My question is, why hasn't anyone been arrested and put in jail if this has happened, especially more than once? Why do the Chinese turn a blind eye when it's one of their own committing crimes, but when it's a foreigner the law is unmerciful? Is it because black or olive-colored people don't matter? Are they no different than a scrub brush that you throw away once it's outlived its usefulness and is wearing out?


Furthermore, there are laws guaranteeing DH workers uninterrupted 24-hour holidays once a week. How many are actually getting these full 24 hours the labor department always talks about? How many actually don't get any days off for several weeks or months?


Why must DHs have a medical exam before they can work in Hong Kong, but no other expat workers must? Why are DHs the only ones who are discriminated against based upon an HIV test? Why is it that many DH workers are paid 2 to 6 weeks late on a regular basis? Why must they beg repeatedly for their salary as though it's some childhood allowance they didn't earn? Why do so many tyrannical employers treat overseas workers (not only DHs) like incompetent children? Paying your employees on time is not an option; it's a requirement by law. Why is it that some workers must eat on the floor instead of a dining table like normal people do?


Many DH workers are forced to illegally drive vehicles as part of their employment, to illegally teach Hong Kongers' young children English or to perform sexual acts. If they don't do what is forcibly demanded of them, they face the threat of deportation and being blacklisted by unscrupulous, immoral bosses who only want to exploit someone they see as an “inferior species” because of their country of origin or their looks. Does this make the Chinese look good to the rest of the world? Is this something a country can be proud of? Isn't world history being taught in Hong Kong schools to help the citizens reflect back upon what slavery has done to many other countries including the USA and England? Doesn't violating employees by exploiting one's “employer power” over them make anyone feel shame here? Have we lost our moral compass that used to show civilized societies how to deal with people correctly?


One person argues in a local newspaper that domestic helpers get to work here because it's allowed by the generous and open government while foreigners are not allowed to work in countries like the USA as domestic helpers because they want to selfishly preserve job opportunities for their own American citizens. This is posed as some kind of heroic effort by the Hong Kong government as if overseas workers are so privileged here. In reality, Hong Kongers would never accept something they see as such a low paying, demeaning job which they regard as beneath themselves while people in America and other countries are more than happy to accept what they are given if they are desperate for work or have no professional skills. Hong Kongers must turn to desperate people from overseas to come in and do their dirty work that nobody here is willing to do in order for its citizens to avoid the humiliation involved in cleaning someone else's filth or their own. In reality, all of this actually boils down to prideful arrogance. Many snobbish rich people are so afraid of getting their hands dirty with the “common people.” Since when did the Chinese in Hong Kong become part of the British royal bloodline to think they are in some way the superior Human Race?


As Hong Kong has been repeatedly faced with these hot topics about human rights issues, especially as they pertain to its DH workers, it will be interesting to see what changes will actually be implemented in the coming months and years. Certainly there are plenty of new laws being passed as the issues are being recognized one-by-one by government authorities. On the surface, the problems appear to have been dealt with, however, will these new laws be enforced or brushed under the carpet like so many are already? Only time will tell. If change is to be implemented, everyone must stand together to force out the corruption that has no place in society.


If you have experiences like the ones described above, please post your comments and let your voice be heard.

Please support our advertisers:
COMMENTS
cookie09 9 yrs ago
actually there was a post a while back with exactly the same topic and pretty much the same type of writing. probably the same troll trying to reignite the discussion again

Please support our advertisers:
Justice4all 9 yrs ago
So I guess I'm NOT the only one who feels this way about the injustice I see all around me if someone else posted something similar not too long ago, you say. Frankly speaking, the arrogance and blatant prejudice Hong Kongers display toward foreigners, especially DH workers is appalling and disgusting. It's even more appalling that people here can't look at themselves and feel any remorse or shame for the constant crimes they commit against fellow humans. It would be funny to see what would happen if an Indonesian or Filipino became your president. I wonder what you'd do. Would you go hang yourself out of despair or would you be able to pull your faces up out of your cell phones long enough to even notice?

Please support our advertisers:
Justice4all 9 yrs ago
FYI, I owned a domestic helper agency a few years ago and worked closely with a local Chinese agent/agency who informed me about many of these factual atrocities herself. I have over 50 Indonesian and Filipino friends who have shared their own personal stories with me and I have personally accompanied some of them to hospitals for treatment of issues relating to their employment in Hong Kong due to the gross abuse or neglect they had to face while on the job. It's time for Hong Kongers to face the music and own up to the responsibilities they have toward their workers.

Please support our advertisers:
bob the builder 9 yrs ago
In response to your third rant "So I guess I'm...."



Please support our advertisers:
Justice4all 9 yrs ago
Thank you for your constructive input, Malka. I have to say, though, that this is hardly what could be considered a fringe problem. Nearly all of the Indonesians I know, which happens to be far more than I'm friends with, have significant problems with human rights violations. But most Indonesians are too afraid to say anything to the Labour Department about their situation since they feel nobody will believe their word against a local citizen's word. They don't want to lose their visa/job and be deported or stranded in a foreign country without money to support themselves while waiting for their case to go to the tribunal. In a sense, they have a valid point. And most don't have the kind of mind to gather evidence to prove their claims, since their culture back home teaches them to be more submissive to authority rather than seek justice for themselves. Local employers seem to capitalize on this fact, which is one of the reasons more and more Hong Kongers are turning away from hiring Filipinos, who are known for standing up for their rights, and turning toward Indonesian helpers who tend to be very docile by comparison. It's unfair to the honest and hard working DHs who simply want to earn money for their families back home without having to face the daily abuses that shouldn't go with their jobs.

Please support our advertisers:
Justice4all 9 yrs ago
Once again, I would like to reiterate that we are not talking about merely name calling or asking someone to clean a toilet. We are talking about international crimes of human rights violations similar to what would be called slave labor in other countries. This goes way beyond what's "fair" or "unfair" treatment and into the issue of abusive labor practices on a grand scale. According to my Chinese agent associate, a majority of employers in Hong Kong are doing this illegal activity. It's the norm, not a fringe anything. People may choose to ignore it or brush it under the rug, but it's here and it's everywhere.

Please support our advertisers:
cookie09 9 yrs ago
justice4all, i get you and i think you have a point but please read the other thread. all these arguments have been made before, discussed, agreed to, disagreed to. there's really nothing new.


i can tell you offhand that most people on this forum agree that abuses exists (and exist a lot). they equally agree that

a) most agencies/government embassies are corrupt and directly create the conditions for what you call slavery

b) most abuses cannot be reported by the helpers since the laws are not strict enough or don't support the helpers once they report abuses


If you can propose any constructive action that we can support or do to change any of the above, you would get a great response.


if you just want to rant - which is what most people so far perceive you doing - then you probably won't get much of a positive reaction

Please support our advertisers:
Justice4all 9 yrs ago
Thank you Cookie for your feedback.


I can see your perspective, but really what I'm hoping for more than just to rant is that some locals will realize what they are doing is completely evil or that some government officials might come to an understanding that something must be done. It's good if others have said something as well, although I'm new to AsiaExpat and haven't read what others have said yet. The more people talking about this stuff going on behind closed doors, the stronger the voice. It's a kind of peaceful protest that brings about change. If everyone is silent, then maybe we as individuals think it's only happening to us or that we individuals are the ones with the problems. Therefore, we may never speak out in opposition for what is right to effect positive change.


Please be aware that Macau doesn't have the horrific set of abuse problems that Hong Kong has with its helpers. The reasons explained to me by agencies and boarding house owners in Macau are that helpers there all stood together in opposition to the abuses they endured in the past until human rights were recognized and maintained by the local authorities, employers and employees alike. While the salaries may be a bit less than in Hong Kong, the fact is that many helpers who go to Macau to wait for their visas or a new employer to be located in Hong Kong end up finding a job that makes them much happier in Macau.


If it's a resolution people are looking for, how about we all stand together, DHs, expats and honest locals alike, to demand change in an effort to show the illegal employers that we won't tolerate this tyranny anymore!!! Domestic helpers marched the streets a couple of years ago with a small victory pertaining to their rights as their reward. The government had to listen even though their numbers could have been larger with over a million DHs working in Hong Kong. Just imagine how much change could happen if DH workers were marching alongside Westerners and local Chinese citizens to effect real change once and for all. Imagine if the employers knew they were being monitored on a regular basis to determine that they were in compliance with the laws pertaining to employing a foreigner who is largely helpless to help themselves out of fear of termination. There is always strength in numbers. If you believe in what I'm saying then let's all stand together by writing or emailing letters to the powers that be in central government to demand these equal rights for those who work hardest for us to have clean homes, clothes, cars, cared-for children or cared-for elderly and otherwise. We expect respect from our helpers, so why not return the respect in like manner?

Please support our advertisers:
arrigoa 9 yrs ago
When I'm on an overseas posting, before "getting too close" to anyone, I usually wait and see how they treat their domestic helper, in my view the moment anyone even talks down to a DH let alone demeans them further, speak volumes about the character or lack thereof. Yes the points mentioned in the above columns are both startling and a fact. Time to teach some basics in HK schools about kindness and the rights of others, we may not be able to fix the system just yet but if we can at least educate people early on then we stand a chance on improving the lives of others.

Please support our advertisers:

< Back to main category



Login now
Ad