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Assaulted Filipina DH gets 1 year’s pay in settlement with employer

28 November 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

A Filipina domestic worker who fought for a year to get relief from the beating inflicted by her female employer has left Hong Kong after agreeing to settle her case for $52,000 - the amount she would have made had she finished the remaining 12 months of her contract.

Before this, Margie A was paid $10,600 by her Chinese employer, Lucy L, for unpaid wages, one month’s salary in lieu of notice, air ticket, annual leave and traveling allowance.

Margie had just completed the first half of her two-year employment when the assault happened on Nov. 8 last year. 

By the time the settlement was reached, however, she had already spent nearly a year at the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, which helped her pursue her case. She returned to the Philippines on Nov. 6.

In exchange for her withdrawing her complaint, Lucy wrote a letter of apology and was bound over, meaning she was not charged but undertook not to re-offend for a set period of time.

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Before leaving, Margie tried to find a new employer but failed. Bethune’s executive director Edwina Antonio said this was regrettable, as they could have asked Immigration to allow Margie to process a new employment contract in Hong Kong had she managed to get someone to sign her up on time.

Photos show the injuries Margie suffered
from the assault
Still, she said Margie’s case showed fighting for one’s rights pays off in Hong Kong,.

“Kahit matagal ang paghihintay, kailangang ipaglaban,” Antonio said.

Aside from getting free shelter and legal assistance from Bethune House and the Mission for Migrant Workers, Margie was also helped in collecting a total of US$600 as subsistence allowance from the insurance she was required to take before leaving the Philippines.

A Filipina domestic worker who fought for a year to get relief from the beating she suffered at the hands of her female employer has left Hong Kong after agreeing to settle her case for $51,720 - the amount she would have made had she finished the remaining 12 months of  her contract.

Margie A had already completed the first half of her two-year contract with her Chinese employer, Lucy L., when the assault happened  on Nov. 8 last year.  Lucy offered an apology and the compensation so prosecutors would agree to having her bound over instead of being prosecuted by the police.



By the time the settlement was reached, however, Margie had already spent nearly a year at the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, which helped her pursue her case. She returned to the Philippines on Nov. 6.

Before leaving, Margie tried to find a new employer but failed. Bethune’s executive director Edwina Antonio said this was regrettable, as they could have asked Immigration to allow Margie to process a new employment contract in Hong Kong had she managed to get someone to sign her up on time.

Still, she said Margie’s case showed fighting for one’s rights pays off in Hong Kong,.

“Kahit matagal ang paghihintay, kailangang ipaglaban,” Antonio said.
 
Antonio (right) in one of the outreach missions
of Bethune House
Aside from getting free shelter and legal assistance from Bethune House and the Mission for Migrant Workers, Margie was also helped in collecting a total of US$600 as subsistence allowance from the insurance she was required to take before leaving the Philippines.

Margie, 42 and married, first found help after alert fellow domestic workers urged her to go to the Philippine Consulate to complain after her earlier attempt to get the police to investigate failed.

According to the statement she gave to officers at the Central Police station, the assault happened exactly a year after she started working for Lucy and her two daughters in their house in Carribean Coast, Tuen Mun.

Margie said that early that day, the employer had accused her of not packing a snack for her elder daughter, and kept shouting at her even when she tried to explain that it was the girl who did not want to bring along the sandwich and drink she had prepared.

After taking down her younger daughter to her school bus, Lucy reportedly went back to the house and continued to scold Margie. 

“She stared at me, not contented with the  shouting and pushed me against the kids’ door,” said Margie.

That reportedly caused Margie’s back to slam hard against the door, and she fell to the floor. She told Lucy to stop or she would call the police. Margie then rushed into the children’s room to pick up her HK ID card and mobile phone but Lucy pulled her hair as she tried to get to the main door.

“She caught up and tried to snatch my mobile phone but I did not give it. Then she held my neck with both hands. I escaped to the toilet, but she chased after me. I locked the toilet door,” Margie said in the statement.

After some time, Margie said she heard her employer leave then take a shower in the other toilet in the house. She said she ran down to the building’s lobby and asked the caretaker for help.

Police were called, but after talking to her and her employer, the two officers reportedly took no action, and merely told Margie to ask for a release letter from Lucy as they could no longer work together.

After the police left, Margie said she asked Lucy for a release letter but she said she had no time to do it.

At around 9:30am, Margie accompanied Lucy as usual to Lai Chi Kok to bring lunch boxes to the two girls in their school. Since they were running late, Margie walked ahead of Lucy.

On her way to the MTR station, a couple of Filipino domestic workers saw Margie crying and asked why. After hearing her story and seeing her bruises, they all urged her to go to the Consulate and even gave her money for her fare as she did not have her wallet with her.

But despite feeling the pain from her wounds, Margie still went ahead to deliver her wards’ lunch boxes first before making her escape.

At the Consulate, staff interviewed her, then called the police who took her to Queen Mary Hospital for a medical check-up. Afterwards, she went to the police station to file her complaint.

Lucy was arrested and charged with “assault occasioning bodily harm.”

Margie said in her statement that it was the first time Lucy had hit her, but she told friends the businesswoman and single mother was always cranky. Luckily, the employer was always traveling for work that they did not have much interaction.

On May 6 this year, the Police sent Margie a letter stating that the Department of Justice had informed them that Lucy “sincerely regretted...her wrongdoing,” and had asked to be bound over as a way to resolve the case.

To show her remorse, the employer offered to write a letter of apology and compensate Margie for the income she should have earned from the remaining part of her contract, “and any other terms you consider reasonable.”

After weighing all her options, Margie decided to agree to the offer. At the same time, she held on to the hope that she could start anew with another employer, but time was not on her side.
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