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EOC chair stresses equal rights for all at 1st ‘Are You OK’ graduation

10 May 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

Foreign domestic workers enjoy as much protection under the law as Hong Kong permanent residents, said the head of the Equal Opportunities Commission, during recognition rites for the first batch of Are You Ok “ambassadors” held in Chater Garden, Central, on Apr. 22

The graduates from the Philippines and Indonesia who numbered about 100, underwent four Sundays of rigorous training on domestic workers rights and how they could detect and help fellow migrants in distress. The project is a joint undertaking by the EOC, International Office of Migration – Hong Kong, RainLily and the consulates of the Philippines and Indonesia.

EOC chair Alfred Chan told the mostly domestic workers in the audience in particular that they should not hesitate to seek help – from fellow migrants, NGOs, their Consulates and  the EOC - when they fall prey to sexual advances from their employers.
EOC chair Alfred Chan (last row, center) is joined on stage by program participants.

“Do not tolerate sexual offences, these are very serious matters,” he said. “So, please, please if you have such experiences, come to EOC.”

Chan advised migrant workers not to listen to people who tell them that they are just temporary visitors in Hong Kong with limited rights and protection under the law.

“You are protected by law,” said Chan. “We promise you that we will do our best to protect you.”

Chan also suggested the question ‘Are you ok?” should be asked by employers to show their concern and sympathy for the worker who works long hours to serve them.

Speaking after the ceremony, Chan said migrant workers who are subjected to any unlawful acts, particularly sexual harassment, should approach the EOC for help. The offences could also include illegal recruitment and human trafficking, the most common problems facing Filipinos in Hong Kong.

“Regardless of who you are, domestic helper or not, you are protected,” he said.

In response, Deputy Consul General Roderico Atienza read a statement from Consul General Antonio Morales who was reportedly called to the Home Office in Manila for a meeting.

In the speech, ConGen Morales thanked the co-organizers of the project, which he said provided a much-needed link between the migrant workers and the labor rights and benefits accorded them under Hong Kong law.

He said the project was in line with the Consulate’s  Gender and Development Program which “requires us to implement programs for women in especially difficult circumstances and to provide them with relevant services and interventions.”

Attending for the Indonesian side was Vice Consul for Labour, Sholahudin.

The program was highlighted by traditional dance numbers from migrant workers from the two countries,, and a performance by the popular Filipino singing group, The Unsung Heroes.

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