Human Trafficking: Close and Often Enough

Have you ever thought about this: you are standing next to a victim of human trafficking?

On 1 August, HKCTU was invited to join a press conference, together with human rights lawyer Patricia Ho, organizations which are concerned about migrant domestic helpers’ rights and human trafficking, to inform the public about human trafficking in Hong Kong.

Human trafficking, in most cases, is to profit from moving a victim from one place to another, and exploiting him/her through labour. There are many means to exploit the victims, the common ones include: alleged debts, restriction of personal liberty. Quite a number of migrant domestic helpers come to Hong Kong with “debts” and repay them with their labour. Their first six months of income go often directly to the agents to repay “debts”. In some severe cases, the employers refuse to give them holidays and do not pay them wages, which make the migrant domestic helpers become victims of human trafficking.

The international community has paid attention to human trafficking in Hong Kong over a longer period. In 2016, Department of State of the USA downgraded Hong Kong to its “Tier 2 Watch List”, together with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others in its Trafficking in Persons Report. According to the Report, the Government of Hong Kong does not provide adequate protection to trafficking victims; and there are evidences indicating that Hong Kong has been a hotspot of human trafficking.

In fact, Hong Kong laws do not protect victims of human trafficking if they are not sex workers. In other words, Hong Kong law would not prosecute anyone who is involved in trafficking a woman from Southeast Asia to Hong Kong and forcing her to work, as long as no sex work is involved. Thus, there are numerous migrant domestic helpers who are tricked to come and forced to work in Hong Kong and such  injustice is not being heard. They might be able to complain about “missing wages”, but the core and more serious crime, namely human trafficking, is not being exposed and the offenders walk free.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and its affiliate Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions are advocating the Government of Hong Kong to make better laws to eliminate human trafficking. Please join our online “Hong Kong Against Human Trafficking Petition”.

The Hong Kong Against Human Trafficking Petition