The Hong Kong government has vowed to step up monitoring of employment agencies for foreign domestic helpers after two Indonesian maids alleged that their Hong Kong employer had tortured them separately.
"Any agency not in compliance with regulations will have their licence revoked -- on this, the government will not be light-handed," said Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who expressed concern over Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih’s case.
Erwiana, 23, alleges she was beaten, burned and tortured by her employer to such an extent that she was left in a critical condition. A second maid, who gave her name as Bunga, claims she also worked for the same employer and experienced similar ordeals.
Indonesians are required to find jobs through employment agencies. Such agencies have come under criticism for failing to protect the interests of foreign maids since Erwiana’s case came to light.
Images of her injuries were circulated on social media and quickly caught international attention.
Cheung said foreign domestic helpers have the same access to legal protection as local workers, and urged helpers to report cases of abuse to the government.
"We do not tolerate any abuse and exploitation of foreign domestic helpers. They are part of the local workforce and we have the responsibility to protect them,” Cheung said.
"We will investigate all cases thoroughly," he reiterated.
Cheung said such cases could be seen from time to time but he stressed that the numbers were not high.
Police have been in contact with Interpol, and will be flying to Indonesia for Sulistyaningsih’s testimony.
Cheung said the truth about the case will come to light once the police have completed their investigation.