Let’s talk about slavery in Hong Kong!
Hong Kong people love to buy slaves. By slaves, I mean Filipino, Indonesian and Thai women/ girls who are paid in handfuls of magic beans to work as pack horses, punching bags, sexual abuse victims, cooks, cleaners, launders and general dog’s bodies.
When I first came to Hong Kong I remember stepping into the lift to go to work one morning. Inside the lift were three school kids, their mother and a coat rack. I nodded a quick good morning to the mother and was about to put my coat on the rack when I realised it was a person! The coat rack was a Filipino maid loaded up with 3 schoolbags, umbrellas and a couple of jackets. Strike me down! Why carry your own stuff when you have your very own human mule?
Maids in Hong Kong are on call 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. Sunday is a holiday. So it’s not all bad. Unless it’s Sunday though, they are pretty much chained to a sink, toilet bowl, mop or shopping trolley. You can see them all over the place – in ridiculously crowded, abominably loud supermarkets…in shopping malls so swarmed with people and so deafening it makes you swoon…and on buses and trains so cramped and cruelly noisy you’d smash the emergency exit window and crash and roll to your death just to get out.
It’s pretty much out of the frying pan and into the fire when the maid gets home with her bag of chicken feet (dinner HK style). There, she comes into her own as a slave. She’s subservient and invisible. It’s a typical slave/ master scenario. When the master comes home from work there’s slippers at the ready, warm drinking water and a light snack waiting on the table, a perfectly clean house and dinner on the go in the kitchen. From my experience, while there wasn’t exactly any bell ringing at dinner time, there was full table service and a full Chinese dinner from soup to desert and everything in between. It’s pretty lush to have someone on hand in your home who’ll fill your tea cup up as soon as it drops to below half way. Why should you have to do it yourself? That’s crazy.
My co-workers, to a man, express genuine astonishment when I bring my own lunch to work. “You prepare yourself???” they ask, stunned. I think this about sums up the lack of self-sufficiency for a lot of Hong Kong people. If a maid isn’t boiling their noodles or preparing their breakfast, lunch and dinner and putting it under their nose for them, then some restaurant waitress is. Again, why do anything for yourself when a pittance can pay someone else to do it for you?
I could write about the co-worker whose maid was raped by 2 Nigerians at an MTR station…but then I’d have to relive that co-worker’s suffering…”What am I going to do? Where am I going to find someone on such short notice to care for my children? How can I find another maid just like thaaaaat?”…but it would just be too depressing. And it would start me thinking about this dog eat dog, cold society where children are put into the hands of migrant workers from birth so that parents can get back into the work force as quickly as possible in order to earn enough credits to pay for and buy slaves and more junk for their postage stamp size houses.