June 18, 2022


My husband and I worked day and night to provide for our daughter and elders at home in Sri Lanka. Later, when my husband fell ill, I became our family’s main breadwinner. To keep our finances afloat, I needed to find a long-term job.

I approached an agency and was very quickly matched with an employer in Hong Kong. They demanded payment for a fee of HKD$15,000 up front, which they claimed would cover for my insurance and other miscellaneous fees. After payment, however, I was not given a receipt, and was not even asked to sign my employment contract. It was strange, but to secure the job, I did as I was told.

Upon my arrival in Hong Kong, the agent immediately took away my contract and passport. I finally got to meet my employer four days later, and only then did I learn that in addition to cooking meals for their family, I was also expected to care for my employer’s physically disabled father. When I asked about food arrangement, I was told that in Hong Kong, employers have no obligation to provide food or food stipends to their migrant domestic workers. Since it was my first job in Hong Kong, I did not question my employer’s words, and bought food out of my own pocket.

My work begins at 5 every morning and I rest at 9 at night. The hours may sound reasonable, but the truth is, I had to get up every two hours during the night to help my employer’s father use the bathroom. The fatigue, however, was not my breaking point. What I could not tolerate was the constant sexual harassment committed by my employer’s father. He often demanded sexual favours and would intentionally touch me without consent. Whenever I expressed my refusal, he would hit me with nearby objects. I was left with multiple scars, from my head and neck to my back and limbs. It was a hellish nightmare. But because I needed the money for my daughter’s education and my husband’s medical treatments, I clenched my teeth and tried to endure. 

Finally, as the abuse escalated and the torment more unbearable, I ran away. I reported my situation to the police, but regrettably, they did not further investigate. After that, my case was referred to STOP through another NGO. It was then that I realized I was a victim of forced labour. With assistance from STOP and a human rights lawyer, I pursed a case against my former employer to claim damages. Yet, as there is currently no anti-human trafficking law in Hong Kong, it’s a long battle ahead. To this day, I am waiting for justice to be done.

*All names & identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor. The photo is not of the actual victim.

Indicators of trafficking for labour exploitation:

  • Coercive recruitment – debt bondage by high agency fee; she was deceived about work nature
  • Exploitation – excessive working hours and no respect of labour laws i.e. no food or food allowance provided by employer
  • Coercion at destination – Kasuni’s HKID and passport were confiscated; employer’s parents physically abused and sexually harassed her
  • Abuse of vulnerability – dependency on exploiters due to economic reasons and family situation


Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.

To reach out or report suspected cases of human trafficking in Hong Kong, please visit our get help page