Recently, an article has been released addressing the exploitation of Indonesian, domestic workers in Hong Kong. According to a report by CNN, Indonesian women are being recruited to work in Hong Kong under the promise of benefits, and are left in debt whilst trying to pay back recruitment fees. The conditions in which these women are working and the benefits being denied under the recruiting process has led to the call for government involvement in hopes of bettering conditions. Unfortunately, the money being earned from the domestic labor of these women benefits both Hong Kong and Indonesia, so little is being done to improve conditions and halt the recruiting process.
The Hong Kong Labour Department issued a statement dismissing accusations against them in regards to domestic labor abuse, claiming that they “do not allow abuse of FDHs [foreign domestic helpers] including underpayment of wages, non-granting of weekly rest days and statutory holidays etc.” despite the existing evidence that proves otherwise. These women are living in compromising conditions, working excessive hours and not being provided benefits promised under the recruiting process.
The economic status of these women makes for an easy target when recruited by Hong Kong labor unions. In relation to Patricia Collins’ piece “Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection” which addresses the structure of power as it relates to class, the poorer women of Indonesia are targeted for their lack of power and privilege, thus providing cheap labor for the privileged, who abuse their economic status and power. It is upsetting to see that economic status permits the exploitation of others, and leads to unethical treatment of the less privileged. Patricia Collins addresses the concept of class and how, in some cases, “members of privileged groups can erase the very presence of the less privileged.” The concept of self-worth and power seems to be centered around the idea of high, social standing.
Fortunately, there is hope. Amnesty International addresses the matter and how they hope to improve conditions for these women, stating, “We need to see current laws enforced and people face justice for the exploitation. Only then will we start to see an end to forced labor from Indonesia to Hong Kong.”
Collins, Patricia. “Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection”. Women’s Voices/Feminist Visions. McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print. 60-67.
Submitted by: Erica Collins