Racial Segregation and Inhumane Treatment of Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Angie NG, Durham University, United Kingdom
Since the time of the mui jai system in Hong Kong, a system in which impoverished girls and women were bound to households as servants and which did not disappear until the 1970s, mistreatment of women as carers in other people's homes has been documented. However, these women were ethnic Chinese, and since the time when Hong Kong first started allowing foreign women into Hong Kong to fill the caring gap left by rapid economic development, the policy has been to hire women from Southeast Asia, mainly the Philippines and Indonesia, instead of culturally and racially closer Vietnam or Mainland China.  This has been to prevent the integration of foreign domestic workers into local society, as they are to be treated as disposable and replaceable sources of caring labour, not potential new immigrants.  From 2011 to 2013, foreign domestic workers fought for the Right of Abode in Hong Kong after seven years of residing in the territory, to which highly skilled foreign workers or ‘expatriates’ are entitled.  This presentation introduces the ‘herstories’ and experiences of eight women who were in a shelter for foreign domestic workers during that period, illustrating the racial- and gender-based dehumanisation, segregation, exploitation and abuse of these women and others.