Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Mission urges HK to ban toilets as sleeping place for migrants

19 August 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

The tiny toilet where Grace was made to sleep and eat in 

The Mission for Migrant Workers has launched a campaign to get the Hong Kong government to ban the use of toilets as accommodation for foreign domestic workers, and make this part of their standard employment contract.

In an online forum held today, Aug 18, the Mission’s general manager, Cynthia Tellez, urged other non-government organizations and migrant support group to join their letter-writing campaign to get the government to respond to the call.


Other participants called for more action, including the imposition of sanctions like a hefty fine, on employers who violate the prohibition when it becomes part of the standard employment contract (SEC).

Mission case officer Norman Carnay said the regulation against using toilets as a sleeping and resting place for migrant workers should be legislated, in the same way that the ban on window cleaning was made part of the SECs in 2017.

Call now!

Eni Lestari, chair of the International Migrants Alliance, concurred and wondered why making FDWs sleep in unsuitable places like toilets, or even the floor, has not sparked as much concern as other forms of abuse.

“Why has this never been an issue?,” Lestari asked, suggesting that it was high time the government and the relevant consulates raised this as a serious cause for concern.


In its appeal for support, the Mission asked other groups to echo its other call to expand the list of unsuitable accommodations to include kitchens, balconies, stairwells, illegal outdoor structures, among others.

Hong Kong authorities must consult domestic worker organizations and their advocates in coming up with the expanded list of unsuitable accommodation, said the Mission.


Currently, the only sleeping accommodations specified as unsuitable for FDWs under the employment contract are make-do beds in corridors and rooms which workers are meant to share with a grown-up person of the opposite sex.

Among those who spoke at the forum was Grace Enicito, whose case sparked the Mission’s call for action.


Enicito spoke of how her employers told her as soon as she got to their house in Happy Valley on Sept 4 last year that she was supposed to sleep and eat inside one of their toilets.

Grace tells her month-long ordeal sleeping and eating inside a toilet

The Filipina helper immediately protested, but her employers tried to appease her by saying the toilet was not frequently used as there was another one in the house.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

But Enicito remained upset. “As days passed, I felt I was no longer a human being,” she said.

She decided to terminate their contract after only a month, but while serving notice, her male employer tried to take her to the airport to force her onto a plane. She called the police and was rescued by the Mission.

Enicito returned to the Philippines in March this year, after settling her labour claim against her employer for $27,780, representing six months’ loss of potential income.

“ But precisely because no explicit ban on toilets as suitable accommodation…Grace and the MFMW had to undergo six hours of negotiation with her employers who were arguing the merits of toilets as suitable space,” said the Mission in its report, “Between a Toilet Bowl and a Wall.”

Tent over her bunk bed was meant to give Mary Ann 'privacy' 

Another migrant worker, Mary Ann Picorro, spoke of how she was made to sleep in a tent hung over her bunk bed, which her employer said would give her some privacy.

Picorro said her contract did not state that the two children she would be sleeping with were both boys, aged 10 and 11 years old. She also did not know that her male employer would sometimes share his sons’ bunk beds.

Apart from the lack of privacy, the helper also complained of being overworked and being constantly watched while she did backbreaking work like cleaning the floor with bare hands, and not being given enough food.

While calling for a ban on toilets and listing other places as unsuitable for use by migrant workers to rest and sleep in, the Mission said that ultimately, the goal is to get Hong Kong to reconsider its policy banning live-out arrangements for FDWs.

Sofa converts into a bed at night for this helper

“We still profess that live-out arrangements can be an option that should be made available for both the employers and the domestic workers, and should not be criminalized,” the Mission said in its report.

“Let us not allow out migrant workers to be further challenged by these problems of unsuitable accommodations. The question is simple: Would you sleep in a toilet? If your answer is NO, then there is no reason for us not to agree to improve things.”
Don't Miss