Hong Kong finds new maids to exploitBy Asia Sentinel Aug 21, 2013 4:29PM UTC
With Indonesians, like Filipinas, having become too aware of their rights, HK turns to Bangladesh, reports Asia Sentinel
Hong Kong recently began recruiting domestic helpers (maids) from Bangladesh, supposedly as a goodwill gesture towards the poor South Asian nation. To many, however, it is an effort to keep down wages and find a source of maids even less liable to complain than Indonesians, who had already overtaken Filipinas in number. They were considered to be less educated and thus less conscious of their theoretical rights and more willing to accept wages and working hours and conditions less than those stipulated as minimums by the government.
In practice the government, run by officials, many with deeply ingrained racial prejudices against brown Asians (the only ones permitted to be maids) makes almost no effort to enforce its own laws. Those who complain quickly find themselves jobless and with only a very short time to find new employment before being forced to leave Hong Kong. Apart from the low wages, widespread abuse is also made of laws which supposedly guarantee time off, a minimum of private living space, outlaw confiscation of travel documents and require adequate provision of medical treatment, etc. That is not to mention sexual harassment.
Just what sort of attitudes the Bangladeshis can actually expect was indicated by the South China Morning Post of August 19 – a paper whose own once-large South Asian editorial team has been ethnically cleansed and mostly replaced by Chinese with lower standards of English. The paper ran the banner headline “Bangladesh maids settle into city life,” carrying a long story quoting a maid and her employer who gushed about how nice the other was, the employer suggesting the maid worked too hard and did not want the stipulated day off. In a separate story by another reporter, another smiling maid was interviewed and quoted elsewhere in the paper as saying “Hong Kongers are quite nice. I feel I am quite lucky”.
Both stories were clearly planted by Technic Employment Service Centre, which recruited the two maids. The attitude of the reporter for the main story, Phila Siu, was well summed up by its opening paragraph: “Frustrated with hiring domestic helpers who didn’t work out, one Hong Konger took a keen interest in the news the city would bring in maids from Bangladesh.”
In other words, maids from the Philippines and Indonesia were becoming too demanding of even a fraction of their rights not to be cheated and abused by local employers. Instead of following up the myriad stories of maid abuse, the SCMP has become the mouthpiece for the recruitment industry and employers looking for ever more abject and obsequious servants.
Amid all the glorification of the attitudes of Bangladeshi maids to their employers, and vice versa, was a nasty little fact buried in the story. Although the scheme only began in May, and only some 50 Bangladeshis have been so far recruited “ten of the crop have been fired because of ‘misunderstandings’ with their employers”. This is shocking rate of dismissal.
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