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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Culture is one thing, ignorance is another

The case of an Indonesian domestic helper charged with publishing child pornography after allegedly live broadcasting video of her employer’s children showering is being played down as a matter of cultural differences by some people. But the strong views expressed by the local community make it plain that such an act is totally unacceptable here

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 1:08am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 1:08am

Foreign domestic helpers make headlines for various reasons. The latest controversy involves an Indonesian helper who allegedly live-streamed footage of her employer’s children showering at home. Unsurprisingly, it has caused more than just an uproar on social media. The legal liability of her alleged action is now a subject for the courts to consider. She appeared in Eastern Court yesterday charged with publishing child pornography and was granted bail pending a hearing next month.

The 28-year-old was said to be an avid user of social media and had previously broadcast live her employer’s daughter helping with household chores. It is unclear why she allegedly went online while showering the three children last Friday. A 17-minute clip that showed the children’s naked bodies was allegedly left online until the mother was alerted by a neighbour and called the police on Monday.

Showing naked images of children ‘not a big problem’ in Indonesia, top envoy in Hong Kong says amid footage row

That cyber activities also have moral and legal boundaries is just common sense. Regrettably, the case is being played down as a matter of cultural differences by some people, including the Indonesian consul general and a migrant workers’ group. We are not sure how stringent child pornography laws are in Indonesia. But if showing photographs or videos of naked children showering is not considered as a “big problem” in the Muslim country, it has to be asked if there are other practices and behaviours that are common in Indonesia but not tolerated here.

The envoy argued that there was a cultural difference between Hong Kong and Indonesia in expressing love to children of other people, such as kissing and hugging. The reality is that local Chinese do kiss and hug other people’s children in social situations. But they do not strip a child naked in front of a camera and share the footage. The strong views expressed by the local community make it plain that such an act is totally unacceptable. Culture is one thing. Ignorance is another. To blame cultural differences is to imply a wider gap in awareness that may see helpers making more faux pas or even breaking the law. The suggestion of more guidelines may help. But it would be unrealistic to expect a full list of dos and don’ts.