I am a daughter to aged parents, an older sibling to a sister who is still at school, and a single mother to a young son. Like most migrant domestic workers, I left home to work in Hong Kong in order to provide for my loved ones.
I have previously came to Hong Kong and worked for a great employer until I fell sick. When my contract ended, I returned to Sri Lanka to undergo treatment. Once I recovered, I found work again in Hong Kong through an agent. To pay for the expensive agency fee, I used up all my meagre savings.
This time, I was not as lucky. When I arrived in Hong Kong, the agency confiscated my identity documents “for safety reasons”. My new employer made me work long hours – I wake up at 4 every morning, and I stay up till 12:30 to cook late-night snacks for the husband. I was constantly tired from the lack of rest. The wife would also make unreasonable demands – she commanded that I change my clothes because she thought I was acting and dressing “like a princess”; I was also made to care for plants in an outdoor greenhouse, which was not part of my job description.
The most distressful part of all was the verbal abuse. She would insult, scold and mock me incessantly. I often felt anxious and frightened at work, but was not ready to give up this job. I complained to the agency about my work conditions, but they did not care and instead, accused me of being the one at fault. They would never know how much courage it took for me to open up to them. I might’ve looked fine, but deep down I was very scared.
The situation continued until a serious accident happened at work that sent me to the ICU, and I was forced to resign by my employer. After a short break in Sri Lanka, I once again came to Hong Kong to work, and sought help from lawyers to claim damages from the agency and my previous employer. I earnestly hope that my story can promote awareness and help others avoid the ordeal I suffered.
*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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