- Published on 18 May 2011
Serving Migrant Domestic Workers
On the Margins of Society
Over the past two decades, to meet the growing demands of our rapidly changing city, Hong Kong has recruited thousands of migrant domestic workers, one of the majority of whom are Indonesians. Often poorly educated and able only to communicate in Cantonese or English at the most rudimentary level, when disputes arise, their support network is very limited. This is the reason our Centre for Migrant Domestic Workers offers services to this vulnerable group. We also support several other groups who are underrepresented: Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Indian and other workers.
Long working hours, no rest days, poor living conditions (including insufficient food), non-payment of wages and benefits, and physical, mental and sexual abuse are typical issues of the migrant domestic workers we serve are facing.
Sadly, many domestic workers do not know their rights, or where to get help. An unfounded fear of being deported and not being able to continue supporting their families prevents them from reporting when their rights are violated.
Christian Action is committed to providing protection and justice for those who have been taken advantage of. Since 1993, our Centre for Migrant Domestic Workers has provided comprehensive assistance to nearly 200,000 women and men who have been economically exploited, or have been unfairly treated or abused during their stay in Hong Kong.
Our services focus in four key areas:
Access to Justice
Provision of free administrative, translation, financial, advisory, and other relevant support to navigate available protection mechanisms, file claims and applications at the Labour and Immigration Departments, Labour and Small Claims Tribunals, and Dept. of Legal Aid, and liaising with or training government, police, lawyers, employers and migrant workers' groups, and other parties to ensure that our clients are able to access justice.
Shelter & Psychosocial Support
Provision of free basic accommodation, food, psychosocial activities, skills training, and emergency cash grants for visas, transportation, and other needs to female workers who have been terminated and have on-going cases or are waiting to return home, or are with illness and in need of temporary accommodation during treatment or recovery.
Weekend Education Programme
Provision of language and computer and literacy classes, and a variety of seminars focused on migrant domestic workers' health and well-being, as well as their rights in Hong Kong.
Outreach and Community Representation
Provision of public education and awareness workshops for migrant workers, their employers, and the wider Hong Kong community; active engagement in welfare and policy consultation and advocacy; facilitation of community engagement and volunteering opportunities; as well as representation in various local and regional fora.
Siti is an Indonesian in her early twenties, who worked for a couple with two children. The first indignity she suffered was not being given a bed, and being forced to sleep on the floor. Siti’s life was complicated as her employers often gave her conflicting instructions, and having random objects thrown into her face by her angry employer became a weekly occurrence. Seeking help from her employment agent proved to be futile, and not knowing she had any recourse to justice left Siti feeling frightened and helpless.
Siti’s sister sent her to Christian Action, seeking help to open a case at the Labour Department. For the duration of her case, Siti was offered free shelter, counseling and paralegal services. While she waited for her case to be concluded, she participated in a number of activities and outings arranged by Christian Action. Thanks to generous donations, we were also able to provide Siti with the money she has needed for any transportation and visa expenses related to her case, and provide her with critical mental health support to overcome her emotional struggles during that time.
How You Can Help
HK$1,000 per month provides two weeks of accommodation for a domestic migrant worker who is involved in a labour dispute.
HK$200 provides 1 domestic migrant worker with access to justice and critical interventions support during times of crisis.
How You Can Help:
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