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Filipina DH scalded by employer seeks help

29 September 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


Jenny suffered serious burns on her neck, back and arm from the scalding  (picture taken on Feb 10)

A Filipina who says her employer of more than five years poured boiling water on her neck and arms more than a year ago has sought help from the Mission for Migrant Workers after she was hurt again recently.

Jenny S. (not her real name) said she decided not to pursue a complaint against her employer after the scalding incident on Feb.10 last year, despite being persuaded by police to do so, as she was heavily in debt because her 16-year-old son was undergoing dialysis.

But after the latest incident last Sept. 3, in which her employer, said to be a surgical nurse, allegedly hurt her again by slamming a refrigerator door on her chest, she decided she had had enough. With help from Mission case officer Edwina Antonio, Jenny sent a letter to the Immigration Department to earlier today, Thursday, to ask for advice and relief. 


Separately, she also filed a complaint with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Office on Sept. 18.

“I have written to complain about the extreme physical, mental and verbal abuse inflicted on me by my employer, her failure to provide me with adequate food despite not giving me any food allowance, and for not allowing me to leave her house to take a day off and take any statutory holiday since January 2021, using the pandemic as excuse,” said Jenny in her letter to Immigration.

Jenny, and who is married to a farmer and has two teen-age children, said in her letter that she wished to continue working as she needed money for her son’s treatment and other expenses, but was not sure she could endure her employer’s abuse.


According to Jenny, the scalding incident happened as she and her employer were cooking radish cake in time for Chinese New Year. After she had put a pot water on the stove for boiling, her employer got mad on seeing that she had an earpiece stuck in one ear. Jenny told her she needed to be on standby for any news on her son who was then undergoing dialyis. 

The employer started shouting so Jenny took out the earpiece. However, the employer continued with her angry tirade, then stalked out of the kitchen. Jenny said she was kneeling under the sink to put away pots inside a cabinet when she suddenly felt boiling water being poured on her. She cried out in pain, and ran to her room to take off her clothes and find relief for her burns.

How? Pindutin ang poster sa itaas.

Her employer followed soon afterwards and put ice and aloe vera on Jenny's back, saying she was sorry and it was an accident, but Jenny did not believe her. After dressing her wounds, the employer let Jenny continue with her work in the kitchen.

Blisters formed on Jenny's right arm after the scalding 

After the scalding, her employer did not let Jenny go to the hospital and treated the burns herself. But on Feb. 15, the last day of the Chinese New Year, Jenny asked to see her aunt, but instead went to Tsuen Wan Hospital along with an officer of her church, to get medical advice and treatment.

There, a nurse saw the burns on her back and advised her to go to a police station inside the hospital. The officers stationed there reportedly advised Jenny to file a complaint so they could go and investigate her employer but she was not persuaded.

"They wanted to see my employer and investigate further but I resisted, as I did not want to lose my job because of financial problems. They gave me time to reconsider, but I insisted I did not want to file a complaint," she said.

Apart from the physical assaults, Jenny said her employer stopped her from leaving the house 20 months ago and told her to stay in her room on her days off, and rest for a mere six hours. After that, she needed to resume work. Every now and then, the employer would also knock on her door to make her do a chore.

Most days, Jenny said she also had to buy her own food whenever she would be sent out to the market or grocery because her employer very rarely gave her anything to eat. She would also take this opportunity to top up her Alipay account at convenience stores so she could send money home.

Jenny has worked for the employer since May 9, 2017 or for more than five years, but still receives the minimum salary of $4,630. She does not get any food allowance.

Press for details

Despite the scalding incident, she decided to renew her contract for the third time in March this year, saying again that she could not afford to lose her job and was scared of taking the chance to look for another employer.

“After I agreed to renew my contract, (my employer) became even more demanding, and would often shout at me and curse me for the smallest reason,” she said in her letter to Immigration.

“I would sometimes answer back but I was still afraid of losing my job. After a while, she started telling me to quit, but that I should pay her a month’s salary in lieu of notice.”

Jenny says she did not file a police complaint because she didn't want to lose her job

Things got worse on Aug 15 this year, when Jenny tested positive for Covid-19. She believes she picked it up from having to commute daily, after her employer decided to have their flat renovated, and told her to sleep in an unoccupied office 15 minutes away.

However, her employer reportedly got angry over her sickness, and blamed her for being careless and failing to take enough preventive measures to ward off the coronavirus.

At about 5am on Sept 2, Jenny had another heated argument with her employer when she forgot to spray disinfectant on her mobile phone before entering the employers’ flat. The employer allegedly threw a chopstick at Jenny, which broke in two after hitting her back.


When Jenny responded to her angry tirade, the employer got even more angry and began shaking the helper by the shoulders. She only stopped when the helper told her to stop being “physical” with her.

Jenny said she then went to the kitchen to put some food inside the refrigerator, and her employer followed her there. Suddenly, the employer slammed the fridge door shut, and hitting Jenny hard on the chest. When she cried out in pain, the employer told Jenny to stop, and said that if she wanted to leave then she could do so, but only after she paid a month’s salary in lieu of notice.

“I still feel pain in my right breast but I have not been allowed to go out and have it examined,” said Jenny.

On the day she managed to slip out to complain to OWWA, Jenny said she was allowed to “rest” inside her makeshift  room in the office starting at 3pm. When she sneaked out to go to the Mission, she said she was allowed to rest between 9am and 3pm, after which she needed to go the employers’ flat to resume work. 

Jenny, who barely managed to finish two months working for another employer previously, got so scared of blowing up a second chance to work in Hong Kong that she put up with the repeated abuse and illegal orders of her employer.

Her being made to stay at home instead of going out on her holidays also prevented her from seeking advice and interacting with fellow migrant workers. Otherwise, she would have known that there are many employers out there who would have treated her far more humanely - and with dignity.


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