外籍家務工要尊嚴 家居關係要和諧 共建共融香港
Apologies for cross-posting
Greetings of peace!
On September 18, the court will rule on the case of Kartika, an Indonesian domestic worker who was allegedly left tied to a chair by her employer for a week during which the employer’s family went on vacation. The said horrible act was just a part of alleged abuses committed against Kartika.
Kartika’s case will be yet again another concrete face of the condition of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.
Thus, on September 17, the Coalition of Service Providers for Ethnic Minorities – a loose group of major NGO service providers for migrants in Hong Kong – will conduct a press conference calling for justice for Kartika as well as immediate reforms in policies that make FDWs vulnerable to such type of abuse.
We believe that current policies such as the mandatory live-in employment arrangement, the New Conditions of Stay or Two-Week Rule and the recent rule of the Immigration Department of denying visas to those suspected to be engaged in “job-hopping” are major factors that lead to severe violations of the rights of FDWs as well as to an unhealthy and unharmonious relationship between FDWs and employers. They also reinforce the exclusion of FDWs from the HK general society.
We would like to ask for your endorsement of the statement we will issue on September 17 (see text below).
You can send your endorsement by replying to this e-mail or you can contact us at +852-25228264.
Also, we urge you to spread this statement and request for endorsement to your partners and networks as well.
Thank you very much and we hope you will support us in our call.
Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW Limited)
Member of the Coalition of Service Providers for Ethnic Minorities
No to another Kartika!
A call for reforms to uphold the dignity of foreign domestic workers, to promote harmonious relationships in households, and to encourage social inclusion in Hong Kong
Changes have to come if we are to prevent another Kartika. Reforms have to be made if we shall truly uphold the dignity of domestic workers as human beings, promote a harmonious relationship inside households, and spread the positive message of social inclusion.
Kartika, like many of us, is a woman who only wants what is best for her loved ones. But the dreams she had that pushed her to work overseas and make sacrifices have instead turned into a nightmare of inhumane treatment, abuses and slavery.
What she suffered from may be extreme and extraordinary. But the fact that it can happen shows that the condition of domestic work in Hong Kong is ripe for such kind of horrors to occur.
Ultimately, this is the question that Hong Kong society must address.
The archives of service providers are full of cases of abuses, maltreatment, rape and other migrants’ rights violations. On all of these cases, the most common contributing factors for their occurrence are the policies in place that create the condition for the victimization of foreign domestic workers, promote an uncaring and unhealthy environment inside households, and inculcate a consciousness of exclusion.
Foremost of these policies are the mandatory live-in employment arrangement and the New Conditions of Stay or Two-Week Rule. Recently, the Immigration Department has also announced their new process of denying visas for those they deem are using the system of employment termination to allegedly “job-hop”.
While these regulations are primarily directed towards FDWs, households also get deprived of a living and working relationship that enables mutual understanding, open communications and, in the end, will be mutually beneficial.
Furthermore, these policies are made without compelling and concrete bases, are illogical when measured against the professed reasons given for their enactment and implementation, and are arbitrarily made without prior and sufficient consultations with all stakeholders that also include well-meaning employers, service providers for ethnic minorities and most especially, the foreign domestic workers themselves.
The mandatory live-in arrangement ties up FDWs to a 24-hour on call work and also puts employers without much choice in the arrangement inside the household even if they want to give decent and private sleeping quarters to their FDW. Meanwhile, the prospect of staying only for 14 days if the contract is terminated oftentimes forces FDWs to endure abuses just so they can hold on to a job. With such restrictive policies in place, how can the government even think that FDWs will still “job-hop”?
The denial of visa for suspected “job-hoppers” would further restrict the condition of FDWs and further force them to stay inside abusive and inhumane living and working conditions.
The policies above are restrictive and punitive. But they are not preventive of the real excesses that happen on the ground nor do they adhere to positive ideals and values that should be promoted to the public.
We call on to the Hong Kong authorities and policymakers to make the needed and urgent reforms that will mitigate the possibility of another Kartika in our midst.
These reforms must be on the framework of upholding the dignity of domestic workers. There are hosts of principles expressed in various instruments that the international community has fixed as standards of human, workers, migrants and women’s rights including the most recent Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (Convention No. 189) of the International labour Organization (ILO).
These changes must be made with the intent of promoting a harmonious and healthy relationship inside households. Conditions must be set to develop a working or living environment that enhances potentials and celebrates the humanity of all parties.
These reforms must be inclusive and recognizing of the fact that Hong Kong can only be a better community if it does not discriminate, appreciative of the contributions of all sectors of the society, and protective of those who are most at risk to human rights violations.
Concretely, we recommend for the Hong Kong government and relevant bodies to:
- Immediately review the New Conditions of Stay or Two-Week Rule as recommended by local human rights organizations in Hong Kong and even by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women of the United Nations. Reform or repeal clauses that are discriminatory and promote conditions for abuses and exploitation.
- Repeal the mandatory live-in employment arrangement and instead leave the living arrangements on the mutual decision of FDWs and their employer. The former practice of a letter of agreement between employers and FDWs can be revived. Additionally, the Immigration Department should work with all stakeholders to better define with “reasonable accommodation” entails.
- Rescind the new policy of denying visa to applicants based solely and arbitrarily on records of incompletion of employment of the two-year contract. This does not take into account the particular conditions that result to termination of contracts and unjustly penalizes both FDWs and employers without due process.
- Provide further moral, financial and structural support to initiatives that promote understanding and harmony in Hong Kong, and the inclusion of all ethnic minorities in all aspects of the Hong Kong society.
- Create a more enabling environment for the effective participation of community organizations concerned with ethnic minority affairs on policy making, implementation and monitoring.