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Cancer-stricken domestic worker thrown out by employer in wee hours

20 May 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

Friends of a cancer-stricken Filipina domestic worker who was reportedly driven out by her employer just after midnight on May 1 are looking for ways to help her get relief, including filing a case for discrimination.

More importantly, they want the case to be a wake-up call for government and policy makers to legislate against the inhuman treatment of migrant workers in Hong Kong.

The domestic worker in question is Joan, a 40-year-old single mother of three who has cervical cancer, diagnosed as between stages 3 and 4. She completed her 20th radiotherapy only on May 11 at Tseung Kwan-o Hospital.

While still undergoing treatment, she was reportedly woken up by her employer a few minutes after midnight of May 1, and told she needed to go because she had already exhausted all her leave credits.

All her things were said to have been packed in a suitcase and two striped bags, and her employers tried to get her into a taxi so she could go to her church’s shelter.

By then, Joan had worked for the employer for two years and four months, having just renewed her contract in January this year.

Not knowing what to do, Joan called up a friend, Carla Temporosa, who told her to go to the police station instead.

At about 2am, Temporosa, who lives all the way in Fanling, managed to get to Joan. She said she called up her friend’s employer to lash out at how badly the sick maid had been treated.
“Sabi ko, this is illegal, this is inhuman”, said Temporosa.

The employer reportedly said, “But I don’t have a boarding house”.

Recalling the conversation, Temporosa said what she was mostly mad about was how the employer threw Joan out without a warning, and at such a time when most of her friends would be unable to help. She said she was just lucky that her own employer was so kind and understanding that she could rush to where Joan was to lend a hand.

Since then, Temporosa’s employer had not only allowed her to take Joan to her daily radiotherapy sessions, he also pays for their transportation and other expenses.

Temporosa said that Carla had taken the day off on Sunday, Apr 30, so she could go to their church in Yau Ma Tei. She got back to her employer’s house sometime between 8 and 10 pm, and was allowed to sleep.

“Her employer could have told her then she needed to go, or waited for just a few hours the next day so Joan could have gotten help more easily,” said Temporosa.

Carla was reportedly diagnosed with cancer on March 5, when she sought treatment for her swollen limbs. Before this, she never complained of feeling unwell, except for stomach pain at the onset of her menstruation period.

She was immediately admitted for treatment at the hospital, and was discharged on Mar. 31, with instructions that she needed to continue her daily radiotherapy sessions.

Her employers reportedly took her back in, but her lady employer stopped talking to her. Despite her weak condition, Joan was not allowed to use the washing machine, and so had to handwash her clothes.

Still, it wasn’t a totally hostile relationship, as Joan was paid her salary during her sick leave, and on her last day, was given $10,000 for unpaid wages and other benefits.

“Maganda naman kasi ang relationship nila dati,” said Temporosa.

But because of the way she was kicked out in the early hours of the morning, sick and fragile, Joan has reportedly been advised by the Helpers for Domestic Workers to file a case under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance against her employer.

Temporosa has also initiated looking at other sources of help for Joan, including the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

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