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Domestic work in Hong Kong: Not all bad

January 2014, 24
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Domestic work in Hong Kong
Recently the media in Hong Kong has been largely focusing on the abuse of a Domestic Migrant Worker at the hands of her employer. Since this revelation many more have come forward with allegations of extreme abuse and this sparked hundreds of thousands to take to the streets in protest, demanding much change from the Hong Kong government regarding their rights and status. Currently domestic migrant workers can never achieve permanent residency in this occupation, no matter how many years they have been in the country. They also are very much at their employer's disposal and can live in the shadows of society too frightened to speak out of abuse incidents due to the current law which states that if they become unemployed - regardless of the circumstances - they have a maximum of fourteen days to obtain a new position before they will be deported.

It all paints a very bleak scene. So, the question is, why are there still nearly 300,000 domestic migrant workers in Hong Kong?
For many, especially those with children, becoming a domestic worker in Hong Kong is the only way they can properly provide for their families back home. Home is usually Indonesia, China and Malaysia where wages are never guaranteed and working conditions can be abysmal. Without being eligible for welfare there is sometimes no option but to leave your family, including children, and make the toughest decision to go overseas in order to give your children a decent life and future.

For many this works out well. They can see their children regularly throughout the year and save their wages to send home to put their children through a good education and keep them free from hunger and poverty. It is undoubtedly a sacrifice but one that many mothers feel is an essential one to give their children a decent start in life, which they would desperately struggle with had they not migrated.

With media it is bad stories that will run, good news stories do not sell as many papers though the success stories of Migrant Domestic Workers by far outweigh the bad stories, and many migrants are treated exceptionally well by their employers becoming part of the family. The work is easy, it is a job you can walk into tomorrow with no qualifications needed. Basic requirements are light household duties, such as cleaning, cooking and possible child care.

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