Domestic helper abuse in Hong Kong is not news anymore. The abuse goes on – no-one in authority cares, or is too frightened to act.
In the last two years two very high-profile cases have brought the plight of overseas domestic helpers in our supposedly progressive city to the attention and scorn of the world.
Erwiana Susistyaningsih was an Indonesian maid who worked for a cruel Chinese employer who beat her, starved her and committed many other atrocities. Her case only came to light because she collapsed at Hong Kong airport when trying to get home. She spent nearly a month in hospital and left in a wheelchair. Her employer is now serving a prison sentence.
More recently Baby Allas, a Philippina single mother with five children discovered she had stage three cervical cancer and needed urgent medical treatment. When her employer found out she was ill, instead of helping her she immediately illegally terminated her employment, depriving the ailing mother of medical treatment in Hong Kong. Among other abuses she was made to sleep on the floor and not use the bed that was in the room. Last week a Hong Kong judge awarded her just HKD 30,000 and showed no sympathy causing members of the public to walk out of his courtroom in disgust.
In a just society these cases and others like them would spark investigations, protests, maybe even changes in law; but not here in Hong Kong. Life goes on the same. Nothing changes and abuse continues.
Just last week, in the case of Philippine helper Nancy Almorin Lubiano, a High Court Judge ruled that the live-in rule, which has caused much illness and abuse, must remain.
Despite heavy international criticism by the International Labor Organisation and other human rights groups both local and overseas it is unlikely anything there will be any improvements.
Our senior politicians must be approved by the mainland government in Beijing now and it is saddening to see them kowtow to their political masters rather than those who elected them.
Mainland China pays no heed to civil rights or individual freedoms, and that attitude is being forced onto the people of Hong Kong, torn between a modern western society and a feudal and autocratic Beijing.
I cannot see that Hong Kong will ever change for the better now. It’s sad.
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Meet the author
Arthur Crandon is a lawyer, the boring office kind, not the exciting (and much better paid) courtroom type. He worked as a solicitor for a while before embarking on an interesting life overseas. He has spent most of his time in recent years in South East Asia, more recently in Hong Kong. Before that, Arthur lived and worked in the Philippine Islands.
He loves to fish, and play the piano – but spends most of his time writing, eating, drinking and sleeping
– usually, but not always, in that order.
His first book, Deadly Election, draws on his strange imagination and his
experiences, together with those of others, in a land that, beneath a veneer of civilisation, operates like the Wild West and is very
dangerous to innocent and gullible foreigners.
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