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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Domestic ‘worker’, not helper: how Hong Kong media can empower the migrant population

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 3:17pm

I always appreciate reading articles about foreign domestic workers in your paper. As an employer of such a worker in Hong Kong, I am encouraged to see the South China Morning Post publish articles that empower this group of indispensable people. 

However, I have noticed that the English-language media, including the Post, does not use a standardised term to refer to domestic workers. The terms vacillate between “helper”, “maid”, “foreign domestic worker” and other variations of “domestic worker”.  

I think it would send a powerful message if the Post chose one term, such as “domestic worker” and did away with outdated terms such as “maid” and “helper”. 

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Domestic work is in fact paid work, so the term “helper” does not nearly have the dignity and accuracy of the term “worker”. Also, seeing as many domestic workers perform crucial caregiving services, the term “maid” seems also woefully inadequate. 

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One day, I hope for Hong Kong to change the status quo regarding the perception of domestic workers, and their place in our society. The media can play an influencing role and lead the way towards a standardised terminology that is accurate, empowering and respectful. 

Heather Lin, Mid-Levels