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On Hong Kong’s Live-in Policy

08 September 2018

This was a short statement read by Gina “Jhic” G. Dacio at the Legislative Council hearing on July 16, 2018 in which she urged for the amendment, if not scrapping, of the Hong Kong government’s live-in policy for foreign domestic workers. Dacio, who is 43 and has been working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for the past 16 years, is from Tabuk City, Kalinga. She is chairperson of Share Hong Kong Society.

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Good afternoon, I am Gina Dacio, a domestic helper and from the Philippines and the chairperson of Share Hong Hong Society. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. This is my first time here. I am lucky because most domestic workers cannot even come to LegCo. I had to ask for time off to come here today. 

I’d like to start with a question. Can you imagine, if you have to live in your employers’ home, in a space that’s only as big as your bed, and may be waken up during the night to work? How would you feel? Do you think this is a healthy work situation? My answer is no. This is against the rights of the helper. But this is happening to many domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

The law in Hong Kong states that we should have suitable accommodation and reasonable privacy. But according to the Mission for Migrant Workers, 2 out of every 5 of its clients do not have their own private room, 9 out of 10 experience long working hours and insufficient sleep, and 34% work over 16 hours every day. 


Today, I would like to bring up the Live-in rule that foreign domestic helpers are longing to be changed and amended. This rule has led to countless cases of physical abuse and unsatisfactory, even inhumane living conditions. Migrant workers are often given tiny bed spaces to sleep in, and suffer from insufficient food and insufficient sleep due to long working hours. Also, employers and their family members are able to command the worker to do chores, even in the middle of the night.

These are all forms of breaching foreign domestic helpers’ rights, and of abuse that may lead to foreign domestic helpers becoming seriously ill, or even die.

In this regard, we must all remember Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the Indonesian domestic helper who suffered extensive abuse at the hands of her employer which nearly caused her death.

If this rule has no chance of being amended, at least require employer to provide their foreign domestic helpers decent bed space to sleep and rest in, not in a toilet or in the kitchen, or on the sofa in living room, or the floor. Require the employers to give us sufficient food or food allowance, at least 11 hours of rest, and respect and treat us as  human beings, like they are. All of these would ensure that foreign domestic helpers are able to build up enough body resistance to sustain them through their daily routine.

I hope my message would create an impact and bring about changes and freedom from discriminations in this society. This would allow us to continue to provide better service to your families and respond to all your needs because our work makes this city function.
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