A Filippino domestic worker was tortured and imprisoned for more than a year before fleeing the home of her abusive Hong Kong employer, according to a support group for migrant workers.
In a statement released on Friday, the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said the maid, who they named only as Eden, was frequently slapped, kicked and hit with a frying pan during her ordeal.
City police confirmed that a 35-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of “assault occasioning actual bodily harm” following a report made by a Filippino domestic worker. Eden’s employer is reportedly a teacher surnamed Mak.
Eden is currently under the protection of the Philippines consulate in Hong Kong, after fleeing Mak’s home in late May and reporting her case to migrant groups and the police.
The workers’ group said Eden was prevented from taking her weekly day of rest or from ever leaving the house, on the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic, and on one occasion was forced to eat porridge mixed with detergent.
“Asian Migrants Coordinating Body strongly condemns the violence against Eden, a Filipino migrant domestic worker here in Hong Kong, and demands timely justice for her,” the group’s statement said.
It also called for “Justice for Eden, No to Another Erwiana!” – a reference to an Indonesian maid in her 20s named Erwiana, who gained international spotlight after her Hong Kong employer was jailed for six years in 2015 for assaulting her during her employment. Erwiana was beaten with mop handles, coat hangers and a vacuum cleaner rod, among other things.
A spokesperson for the migrants’ group, Dolores Balladares Pelaez, said Eden, 36, was tortured since arriving in Hong Kong in March last year, to work for Mak and her husband, who have a toddler. Eden was blamed whenever the boy threw a tantrum, receiving beatings and death threats, Pelaez said.
On one occasion the employer pulled Eden’s hair, banged her head against the wall, and forced the maid to finish the toddler’s uneaten meal after mixing it with detergent, Pelaez said.
Further, Eden was not allowed enough rest.
“Over 14 months of employment [Eden was] never allowed to leave her employer’s home,” the statement said. Forced to sleep in her employer’s study room, the maid was never allowed to take her weekly day of rest outside the home, on the pretext of the risk of contracting COVID-19. Instead, Eden was allowed only two hours of nightly rest before resuming her work, the group said.
The coordinating body uses the slogan “End Modern Day Slavery Now!”, explaining that the abuse of domestic workers remains rampant even after the Erwiana case was exposed to the world.
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