Domestic Workers HKFP Voices

In Pictures: Dancing to ‘break the chain’ – HK domestic workers unite to demand equality

Photos by Adrian Lo and Loryjean Yungco

Hundreds of Indonesian, Filipino, Thai and Nepalese migrant workers took part in a workers’ solidarity event outside City Hall in Central on Sunday.

This year is the fourth year of the global, feminist One Billion Rising event. The movement aims to highlight local and global situations of violence against women in their working environments.

From February till March 8, thousands of “risings” are set to take place in various countries around the world.

The event included a parade, speeches, and dancing. The “Break the Chain” dance was used to express the spirit of the domestic workers in a show of global solidarity and collective action.

The Hong Kong event was backed by The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body.

The migrants, mostly domestic workers, were joined by renowned playwright Eve Ensler and international artist Monique Wilson.

Organisers said that violence against female migrants persists due to the policies of the Hong Kong government which enable Asian women migrants to suffer social exclusion, discrimination, exploitation and other abuses.

Bungon Tamasorn, chairperson of Thai Regional Alliance said: “We would like to fight for our migrant workers rights in Hong Kong; we need equality, we don’t want discrimination.”

The mandatory “live-in rule” means domestic workers must live with their employers and potentially face abusive working conditions such as long working hours, lack of privacy, and sleep deprivation.

The “two-week rule” or “new conditions of stay” can keep domestic workers in abusive situations as new employers must be found within a fortnight. Overstaying could see workers deported to their home country.

Meanwhile, recruitment agencies keep workers in debt bondage, with sums that can total up to five months of a domestic worker’s salary.

Sringatin, chairperson of Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, said: “We are not recognised, because we are poor, and because we are women.”

“We are not slaves, we are domestic workers!” Sringatin said.

In Pictures: Dancing to ‘break the chain’ - HK domestic workers unite to demand equality