Dissertation Abstracts

Ending modern-day slavery: A study of the pro-FDH local NGOs and/or charities in empowering FDHs from Indonesia and the Philippines working in Hong Kong

Author: Hiu Ching Au, hiuchingzoeee@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Supervisor: David Mayeda
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Hong Kong , Foreign domestic helper , Abuse , Exploitation
Areas of Research: Human Rights and Global Justice , Migration , Women in Society

Abstract

Although slavery was abolished since the nineteenth century, modern-day slavery still exists in the world today (Anti-Slavery International, 2017). According to The Global Slavery Index (2017), as of 2016, it is estimated that there are 45.8 million modern slaves in 167 countries across the globe, in which 29,500 of them reside in Hong Kong. As acknowledged by the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in its General Recommendation 26, “women migrant workers are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, sexual harassment and physical violence, especially in sectors where women predominate. Domestic workers (DWs) are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual assault, food and sleep deprivation and cruelty by their employers” (Amnesty International, 2014, p. 3). In Hong Kong, many foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) suffered from abuse and exploitation in the hands of the governments from sending and receiving countries, recruitment agencies and/or employers. They worked overtime, denied weekly day off and holidays, underpaid, suffered from starvation, physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse (Justice Centre Hong Kong, 2016, pp. 7-8 & 43-44). It is because domestic work is a sector that is extremely vulnerable to forms of abuse and exploitation. Domestic helpers (DHs) work in the closed doors of private households that are less visible comparing to workers working in the public sectors (Lim, 2016, p. 71; Anti-Slavery International, 2017).In this dissertation, I want to find out whether the services provided by local pro-FDHs NGOs and/or charities empower FDHs and attempt to end modern-day slavery in Hong Kong. Drawing from books, academic journals, newspapers and reports, I will address two questions in this dissertation: First, is the abuse and exploitation experienced by FDHs in the hands of the governments, recruitment agencies and/or employers in Hong Kong a form of modern-day slavery? Second, to what extent do pro-FDHs local non-profits organizations (NGOs) and charities empower FDHs from Indonesia and the Philippines and attempt to end modern-day slavery in Hong Kong? This dissertation is divided into six chapters: In chapter one, slavery will be defined, followed by the origin of slave trade and slavery. Then, modern-day slavery will be defined, and chattel slavery and modern-day slavery will be compared. After that, I will talk about the scope of modern-day slavery across Asia, followed by the gendered dimensions of slavery across the world as well as in Hong Kong. Lastly, I will talk about the slavery in Hong Kong and compare Chinese old slaves – muijai (bonded servants) and Chinese amahs (sworn spinsters) with FDHs. In chapter two, the method I used in conducting this dissertation will be given. In chapter three, abuse and exploitation will be defined. The various forms of abuse and exploitation by the governments, recruitment agencies and/or employers towards FDHs will be discussed. Sociological concepts such as globalization, transnationalism, commodification and objectification will be used to illustrate how FDHs are turned into modern slaves in Hong Kong. In chapter four, the pro-FDHs local NGOs and/or charities that provide services for FDHs will be listed. Then, the services provided by them will be given. Finally, to what extent do the services provided by these pro-FDHs local NGOs and/or charities empower FDHs from Indonesia and the Philippines and attempt to end modern-day slavery in Hong Kong will be examined. In chapter five, I will conclude my dissertation with the ecological model.

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