Good News from Hong Kong - Intan wins court case

Intan with other women from the emergency relief center in Hong Kong. Photo: Christian Action

As a domestic worker, Intan lovingly cared for a woman suffering from dementia for over a year and a half. However, the migrant from Indonesia had never been correctly registered by her agency with the authorities in Hong Kong. Since the agency withheld her passport, she never knew about it.

The fraud was discovered when Intan wanted to apply for a new passport. At first, her agent refused to hand over her employment contract and passport. It soon became clear why: the agent had applied for Intan's visa with false information and it was therefore invalid.

Left alone

When Intan, together with her agent and her employer, went to the Migration Office to clarify the matter, they were all arrested. Intan was charged with illegal residence. Intan was forced to leave her place of residence and work; she was not even allowed to take her personal belongings with her. Her agent and her employer turned their backs on her. Intan had been working since the age of 12, but she had hardly any financial reserves and now no work permit, she did not know her rights.

Like her, many of the more than one hundred thousand Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong feel the same way. They are often at the mercy of their recruitment agencies, as their passports are taken away by them. Since they are not informed about their rights, they can hardly defend themselves against bad working conditions, exploitation and violence.

Protection in the emergency center

A pastor told Intan about the emergency center for migrant workers, run by two of Mission 21's partner organizations, the TsungTsin Mission of Hong Kong (TTM) and Christian Action (CA). At the center, she not only received food and a place to sleep, but also legal assistance. That she had been deceived by her agency, she was able to successfully represent in court thanks to the Center's legal team. She was acquitted on all charges and was able to return to Indonesia.

Justice restored

In December 2018, a call from the ER reached her that was particularly joyful for her. The court in Hong Kong had upheld her claim for damages against her former agency. The agent then had to pay her compensation for the loss of wages she had suffered.

Intan's story has shown her and other migrant women at the center that it is worth fighting for one's rights. Now she dreams of opening a laundry in her home country of Indonesia together with friends and finding her future husband. She can look to the future with renewed strength and hope.

Text: Eva Sidler

 

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