I was 19 when I was deceived and trafficked to Hong Kong with 15 other men from the same village in India.
We met Mr B in 2017, who claimed to be a recruitment agent. He painted a beautiful picture of working in Hong Kong and lied about being able to arrange for us ‘asylum visas’. Unknown to us that no such traveling document exists, he said it was a type of working visa, and we believed in him.
Before leaving for Hong Kong, we were asked to pay an agency fee of roughly HK$15,000 each, which supposedly covered the plane ticket, accommodation and work arrangement etc. It was no small amount for many of us, including myself. To facilitate my trip to Hong Kong, I sold my family properties and even borrowed money from loan sharks. We were also coached to tell the Hong Kong Immigration Office that we came to ‘visit relatives’ if we are asked for our reason for visit. Dreaming that we could work in the city and provide a better life for our families, we suspected nothing.
Yet, it soon dawned upon us that we were being trafficked for forced labour. Mr B’s connection in Hong Kong, Mr C, picked us up at the airport. Immediately, he confiscated our passports and claimed that he would “keep the documents in a safe place”. The group was then taken to a tiny village house in Yuen Long. None of us knew where we were and no one dared to disobey Mr C. Hygiene in the house was poor and its size spatially suffocating – all 16 of us slept on the floor, cramped up, sharing a thin mattress.
Some days later, we were assigned to work in a nearby parking lot, taking apart old electronics. We finally struck up the courage and demanded to be paid. Unfortunately, Mr C not only disregarded our request, but accused us of owing him money, because he paid for our ‘extortionate’ traveling expenses.
In the midst of it all, one of us from the group managed to get in touch with a hometown friend who lived in Hong Kong at the time. We were found, led back to safety and introduced to STOP.
*All names & identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor. The photo is not of the actual victim.
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