Campaign to educate helpers on their rights following alleged Erwiana abuse
In wake of alleged abuse of Erwiana, new course launched for domestic workers
Fanny W. Y. Fung and Emily Tsang
Police and labour officials returned to Hong Kong from Indonesia last night after a six-day visit to investigate allegations of abuse against domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.
The group's return comes three days after suspect Law Wan-tung, 44, appeared in court to face seven charges relating to the alleged abuse of the 23-year-old worker and two other helpers. Law has entered no pleas and is due to return to court on March 25.
Meanwhile, the Labour Department is set to launch a half-day course to educate newly arrived foreign domestic helpers of their rights in Hong Kong.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung yesterday announced a series of measures being considered to strengthen the protection of foreign domestic helpers' rights, particularly those from Indonesia.
"We must get the message across and raise their awareness of their rights. For example, we need tell them that no one should take their passports from them and let them know under what circumstances they should seek help," Cheung said.
He said the administration was considering requiring employers to allow newly arrived helpers to attend the course.
The government might also impose licensing conditions on employment agencies that would require them to regularly contact the domestic helpers to hear about any abuse, and which would prohibit them from extending loans to domestic helpers.
Leaflets in the Indonesian language would be distributed to alert maids to their rights and ways to report abuse and exploitation in Hong Kong.
Separately, police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said abuse of foreign maids remained rare in Hong Kong. "There are hundreds of thousands of foreign domestic helpers. In fact such abuse cases are very rare. Over the past few years, there was an annual average of 30 to 40 cases of wounding and serious assault between employers and foreign domestic helpers."