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講座回放 | 反思香港外籍家庭傭工遭受的性暴力

Sexual Violence as Experienced by Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong


An intersectional discussion on the hurdles faced by foreign domestic workers who are seeking redress against sexual violence in Hong Kong, in particular how race, employment status and socio-economic standing may prevent more from speaking out.

Eni Lestari gave a comprehensive overview of the structural issues and social stigmas that underpins why sexual violence are so underreported within the Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) community.

香港的外傭在尋求解決性暴力事件會面臨甚麼障礙? 她們的種族、就業狀況和社會經濟地位又如何影響公義的彰顯?


Eni Lestari, Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance [In Q&A Session] Evelyn Tsao, Partner, Patricia Ho & Associate

講者:Eni Lestari Andayani Adi, 國際移民聯盟主席, 具豐富國際及社區倡議經驗

[In Q&A Session]曹喬茵律師, Patricia Ho & Associates 合夥人, 公共利益律師


視頻回放 (YouTube)

PowerPoint (簡報 / 幻燈片) 下載:

下載 PDF • 16.30MB

Webinar Reflection:

Sexual Violence as Experienced by Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

In April 2022, Hong Kong broadcaster TVB sparked outrage when they cast a local Chinese actress as a Filipina domestic worker in a TV series. A behind-the-scenes video featuring the actress saw her applying make-up to “tan” her complexion. Beyond the “brownface” controversy, the plot surrounding her character was also ladled with stereotypes that perpetuate biases towards the domestic worker community (award-winning Filipina actress Crisel Consunji turned down the role for this very reason). One wonders how much of local Hongkongers’ impression on domestic workers are inadvertently shaped by archaic media representation, and how many of those prejudices spilled over to a criminal justice context.

As part of our Project’s “Access to Justice and Gender Equality Series”, we were recently treated to a tremendous intersectional discussion from Eni Lestari Andayani Adi and Evelyn Tsao, both prominent advocates for foreign domestic workers, on sexual violence experienced by this group. Legally mandated to stay under the same roof as their employers (the “live-in requirement”), they play an indispensable role in many Hong Kong households. However, it is also a community whose rights – and even something as basic as feelings – are often overlooked.

It is impossible to approach this topic without delving into the systemic hindrances that made seeking help and justice against sexual abuse such a Sisyphean struggle for foreign domestic workers. Eni’s presentation highlighted several commonalities she observed from victim-survivors of sexual abuse in their community. Often newcomers to the city, their sole option is to turn to their agencies who are not only unlikely to act in their interests, but are actively exploiting them, too. It is commonplace for these agencies to charge them 6-months’ worth of salary as agency fee, and to confiscate important documents such as passports and marriage certificates until all agency fees were settled. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, domestic workers are also repeatedly denied rest days or going out by their employers, effectively imprisoning them in their workplace. On top of all that, the 2-week immigration rule forces them to leave the city within 14 days upon termination of their employment contract.

Their lack of agency and financial independence made them easy preys, and placed them in an unescapable situation. Filing a police report is not an easy choice either: most cases would not proceed to investigation and/or prosecution unless they can present hard evidence such as photographs or videos. For those who would like to sue for civil damages against sexual abuse, even though the standard of proof is lower (i.e. “on the balance of probabilities” as opposed to “beyond reasonable doubt”), certain sexual harassment behaviors are so pervasive that it is difficult to collect evidence for. Furthermore, to seek redress through the judicial system is to have their credibility vigorously questioned, their trauma relived, and to be at the mercy of a culture deeply mistrusting of the motives of a domestic helper brave enough to stand up for herself. The language barrier between the victim-survivor and the police and the court also renders the judicial process extremely tedious. Finally, when you only make HK$4,630 per month – the minimum allowable wage for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong – how are you going to afford legal representation? While legal aid is available, they would also have to convince the Legal Aid Department that they have reasonable grounds to pursue the case. As Eni explained, when domestic workers weigh the loss of filing a case against the need to support their family, it seems biting their teeth and doing whatever it takes to survive in their abusive workplace can at least ensure their source of income.

Both speakers were clear and specific with their recommendations for reform, such as abolishing the “live-in requirement”, allowing them to switch jobs freely, relaxing harsh immigration rules, blacklisting abusive employers and their family members and offering free mental health services; though it is difficult to imagine the current administration would prioritise any minority rights on their policy agenda. It is nevertheless encouraging to see that lawyers such as Evelyn who would take on these cases on a pro bono basis; and foreign domestic workers are seeking to empower themselves through community organising, as an admirable display of resilience and defiance.



本次討論為平等權項目的「司法正義與性別平等」系列講座,有幸邀請到兩位具豐富倡議經驗的講者Eni Lestari Andayani Adi 和曹喬茵律師(Evelyn),深入探討香港家傭遭受性暴力的情況。香港法律規定家傭必須與僱主同住,因此她們在許多香港家庭中扮演著不可或缺的角色。然而,她們的權利甚或是基本情感,卻經常被忽視。


欠缺自主和財務獨立使家傭成為施暴者的獵物,並置她們於無法逃離的處境。報警也並非容易的選擇:除非她們能夠提供確鑿證據(如照片或片段),大多數只依靠受害人證供的案件都不會受理,更遑論能夠進入司法程序。如果受害者循民事訴訟索取賠償,即使民事舉證標準較低(即「相對可能性的衡量」而不是「毫無合理疑點」),某些性騷擾的本質就是滲透在日常的行徑,以至於很難收集證據。此外,性暴力受害者在司法程序裡遭受「二次傷害」的情況屢見不鮮,而根深蒂固的歧視使得本地香港人對家傭尋求司法補救的動機深表懷疑。在法庭上,辯方就能夠利用這種被媒體大肆渲染的刻板印象多番質疑家傭的誠信。再者,報案人與警方和法庭之間的語言障礙使得每個司法程序都非常冗長。最後,香港家傭的每月最低工資為4,630 港元,她們又能如何負擔聘請律師的費用?雖然她們可以申請法律援助計劃,但法援署的審批仍然是基於申請人的申訴是否有依據。正如Eni所解釋,當她們權衡提起法律訴訟的損失與養家糊口的需要時,似乎吞聲忍氣、咬緊牙關、努力生存,至少可以確保有穩定的收入。


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