The bid of Rowena Uychiat’s former employer, Anna Yiu Hoi-yin, to have her blacklisted by Hong Kong’s immigration authorities and barred from ever getting back to work in this city again smacks of blatant discrimination.
Uychiat, a Filipino domestic helper in Hong Kong, escaped from her employer’s home due to physical abuses, Yiu’s failure to allow her to take a once-a-week dayoff as mandated by law and other forms of maltreatment.
Depriving a person, whether she’s a foreign maid or a Hong Kong national, of a chance to earn a living is clearly unfair, discriminatory and unjustified unless the petitioner in this case, Yiu, can present sufficient and solid grounds that will stand up in court in case of a legal challenge.
Does Yiu have solid grounds to seek Uychiat’s blacklisting? Apparently not.
All she has to back up her petition is her unfounded accusation that Uychiat fabricated her allegation that Yiu physically assaulted her on various occasions, made her work up to 21 hours a day and deprived her of her weekly holiday. In most jurisdictions around the world, accusations need to be supported by concrete evidence.
Unfortunately for Uychiat, this same legal tenet applies to her. She filed a complaint with the HK government, but it failed to get anywhere due to “insufficiency of evidence”. Apparently, she failed to get any medical certificate from a doctor to back up her claim that she was physically assaulted. Deprived of the mandatory weekly dayoff, it can be presumed that seeing a doctor was nearly out of the question.
Support groups that help Uychiat in her fight need to be commended. But more than just exposing her plight, other courses of action need to be taken immediately to safeguard the interests of all foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong.
Yiu’s blacklisting bid might set a very bad precedent to all FDHs helpers. In the event immigration authorities takes her petition seriously, this can make many other FDHs vulnerable to discriminatory treatment.
The prevailing so-called “two-week rule” on FDHs whose work contracts are pre-terminated is clearly discriminatory as it doesn’t apply to non-blue collar workers, notably office-type professionals. FDHs maids can ill afford to have another discriminatory guideline slapped on them.
FDH support groups should immediately denounce as discriminatory, unjustified and a gross violation of basic human rights Yiu’s blacklisting petition with immigration authorities.
Formal communications about this matter should immediately be sent to the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Immigration and Labor departments, and a copy of this letter sent to both the English and Chinese media.
Exposing and denouncing in Hong Kong’s media – not just among local Pinoy publications — discriminatory acts against FDHs is one of the best ways to safeguard and even boost their interests and welfare. Subjecting to public censure and shame discriminatory acts can go a very long in deterring perpetrators from adopting more discriminatory acts against FDHs.
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