• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 6:01am
NewsHong Kong

Maid's tale of abuse is just one among many

Shelter logs two cases of abuse every single day as helpers flee violence, maltreatment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 4:35am

At a 900 sq ft temporary refuge for foreign domestic helpers who can no longer stay with their employers, at least 16 Filipino and Indonesian women are squeezed inside. The Sheung Wan flat has one bedroom, a kitchen and a small office.

Bethune House was set up in 1986 by the Mission for Migrant Workers and provides short-term accommodation, meals, counselling, and training workshops to migrant workers in need of help or with legal problems.

"Chatting with friends here makes my days easier since waiting for the unknown future is stressful," says Nur Hariyanfi, one of the residents.

The 30-year-old said she moved into the shelter in early February after her 81-year-old employer attacked her with a hot iron, scalding her left hand.

Recounting the moment, the Indonesian domestic helper said: "I was very shocked. My soul is gone."

Hariyanfi said her employer verbally abused her and attacked her because she didn't iron the curtains properly before Lunar New Year and accidently hurt the old woman's finger in a quarrel.

After the alleged attack with the iron, Hariyanfi turned to a social worker, who later introduced her to the shelter.

"I decided to leave because I thought if [my employer] could do this to me, she could do more in future," she said.

Mission director Edwina Antonio said women living in the shelter had been exposed to all sorts of abuse - violent, sexual and verbal. Some had been forced to work exhausting hours or were not given their wages.

The Sheung Wan shelter and its sister refuge in Jordan each handle about 30 cases a month, most related to labour disputes.

"We get at least one to two cases [of physical and sexual abuse] in a month," Antonio said. But she said it was impossible to count exactly how many workers were abused because they were mistreated in private situations. Some may have just gritted their teeth as they needed their jobs to support their families, she added.

Another resident from the Philippines, giving her name only as Mary Ann, said her employers made deductions from her wages for various reasons, such as leaving a food item in the refrigerator for too long.

For Hariyanfi, life is better in the shelter, but she is not happy.

"I feel sorry for my family because I can't send them money any more," she said, her eyes brimming with tears.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

When I was younger, I used to have a caretaker called Carol. I called her aunt Carol, and I loved her like a mother. Unfortunately, she had to go back home for some personal family business, but I really miss her now. Seeing this kind of news makes me extremely angry!
There is lot of being said in these days about Domestic Helpers in media now a days in Hong Kong.
This is a isolated case and most importantly Filipinos here are pushing their agendas in this case.
There are many many organizations cashing in from issues keep accusing HK employers. There are many many organizations helping thus teaching Filipino DH’s falls stories how to win cases against their victimized employers in HK courts. Got lot of free lawyers to prosecute employers in courts.
Now there is trend in Filipinos taking Hong Kong employers as stepping stone to get HK ID card then apply to immigrant to Canada. Once visa of Canada will come in their hand DH will take all benefits from employer’s salary etc while victim employer know nothing DH’s moves. Next day DH will disappear suddenly. Leaving households suddenly in chaws children waiting to go schools at once no one to follow the life routine. Abuse is no need to bear responsibility for one month notice money and other things to follow according to employment contract….
Now many pushing for stay out…. Even stay in. many DHs note time of working empolyers and make extra money in that times by doing part time jobs. Its very open on their off days DHs take illegal jobs (so called part times, selling things etc)
So called these missions (organizations) harass employers if you don’t do this if you don’t listen us we will prosecute u
Any organization to protect HK citizens’ rights? And protection from these so called m


SCMP.com Account