This paper explores various abuses Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) or migrant domestic workers (MDW) in Hong Kong suffer and the strategies they take up to cope with this abuse. Data were collected from 215 domestic helpers (135 from the Philippines, 30 from Thailand, 41 from Indonesia, and 9 from Sri Lanka) all of whom had been in residence for at least six months. Selected by snow-balling technique, respondents were interviewed with structured and non-structured questionnaires. Research shows that sexual abuse is the most common form of abuse against MDWs followed by psychological and physical abuses. Female employers are the main perpetuators of psychological abuse while the male employers are culpable for sexual abuses. Coping strategies varied widely among the MDWs. Many of them endure the violence to keep the job; some quit the job and others struggle with the decision to stay or quit.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Abella M. 2003. Driving forces of labour migration in Asia. In: World Migration 2003 International Organization for Migration Geneva.
Abraham M. 2000. Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Barry K. 1992. Sexual Exploitation Violates Human Rights. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Fall (1992) [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2003].
Clements C.M. Sabourin C.M. and Spiby L. 2004. Dysphoria and hopelessness following battering: The role of perceived control coping and self-esteem. Journal of Family Violence19(1).
Coker A.L. Davis K.E. Arias I. Desai S. Sanderson M. Brant H.M. et al. 2002. Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 23(4).
Department of Justice Canada. 2005a. Child abuse: A fact sheet from the department of Justice Canada. Available at: [Accesed 13 October 2005].
Department of Justice Canada. 2005b. Dating violence: A fact sheet from the department of Justice Canada. Available at: [Accessed 13 October 2006].
Doezema J. 1998. Forced to Choose: Beyond the Voluntary v. Forced Dichotomy.
Kempadoo K and Doezema J. eds. Global Sex Workers: Rights Resistance Redefinition New York: Routledge.
Folkman S. and Lazarus R. S. 1980. An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 21.
Fry P.S. and Barker L. 2001. Female survivors of violence and abuse: Their regrets of action and inaction in coping. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 16(4).
Gamburd M. 2000. The Kitchen Spoon’s Handle: Transnationalism and Sri Lanka’s Migrant Housemaids. Ithaca NY.: Cornell University Press.
Human Rights Watch 2004. Help Wanted: Abuses against Domestic Workers in Indonesia and Malaysia. Report 21 July. Available at: .
ILO 2013. Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection. Geneva: ILO.
Kempadoo K. and Doezema J. eds. 1998. Global Sex Workers: Rights Resistance Redefinition. New York: Routledge.
Lee Peggy W.Y. and Carole J. Petersen. 2006. Forced Labour and Debt Bondage in Hong Kong: A Study of Indonesian and Filipina Migrant Domestic Workers. Occasional Paper No. 16. Centre for Comparative and Public Law Faculty of Law The University of Hong Kong.
Lin L. L. and Nana O. 1999. International Labor Migration of Asian Women: Distinctive Characteristics and Policy Concerns. In: Graziano B and Anthony P. eds. Asian Women in Migration. Quezon City: Scalabrini Migration Center.
Loper K. 2001. Cultivating a Multicultural Society and Combating Racial Discrimination in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Civic Exchange.
Ma E. 2007. Grassroots nationalism: changing identity in a changing context. China Review 7(2) pp. 149-167.
Machado J.M.R. 2003. Domestic work conditions of work and employment: A legal perspective. Conditions of Work and Employment Series (7).Geneva: ILO.
Nagy S.R. 2013. Building a Human Security-based Framework for the Protection of Migrants in Northeast Asia International Studies Review 14 (2) pp.59-80.
Nagy S.R. 2013a. Politics of Multiculturalism in East Asia: Reinterpreting Multiculturalism. Ethnicities 14 (1) pp.1-17.
Noorashikin A.R. Brenda S.A. Y and Shirlena H. 1999. Dignity Overdue. Impacts in Singapore. International Migration Review 33(1).
Parrenas R. S. 2001. Servants of Globalization: Women Migration and Domestic Work. Stanford California: Stanford University Press.
Price L. S. 2005. Feminist Frameworks: Building Theory On Violence Against Women. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
SCMP (South China Morning Post) 2014. Worldwide petition collects 103000 signatures to end Hong Kong helper abuse. 28 April.
Shuto M. 2006. Labour Migration and Human Security in East and Southeast Asia. In: Kleinschmidt H. ed. Migration Regional Integration and Human Security: The Formation and Maintenance of Transnational Spaces. Aldershot England; Burlington VT: Ashgate. pp. 205-224.
Simons L. 1999. Mail Order Brides: The Legal Framework and Possibilities for Change. In: Kelson G. A. and DeLaet D. eds. Gender and Immigration. Washington Square N.Y.: New York University Press.
Smith P.H Thornton G.E. DeVellis R. Earp J. and Coker A.L. 2002. A populationbased study of the prevalence and distinctiveness of battering physical assault and sexual assault in intimate relationships. Violence against Women 8(10).
Sobsey D. 1994. Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities: The End of Silent Acceptance? Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
Stone A.A. and Neale J.M. 1984. New Measure of Daily Coping: Development and Preliminary Results. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46.
Straight E.S. Harper F.W.K. and Arias I. 2003. The impact of partner psychological abuse on health behaviors and health status in college women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 18(9).
Thomas E. K. 2000. Domestic violence in the African American and Asian American communities. Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior 37(3-4).
Tolman R.M. and Rosen D. 2001. Domestic violence in the lives of women receiving welfare. Violence Against Women 7(2).
Ullah AKM A. 2014. Refugee Politics in the Middle East and the Africa: Human Rights Safety and Identity. London: Palgrave McMillan.
Ullah AKM A. and Huque A. S. 2014a. Asian Immigrants in North America with HIV/AIDS: Stigma Vulnerabilities and Human Rights. Springer.
Ullah AKM A. Hossain Akram M. and Islam Kazi M. 2015. Migration and migrant fatalities abroad London: Palgrave McMillan.
Ullah AKM A. 2013. Mother’s land and others’ land: ‘Stolen’ youth of returned female migrants. Gender Technology and Development 17(2) pp. 159-178.
Ullah AKM A. 2013a. Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong: Adaptation strategies in an ethnically distant destination. International Migration 51(2) pp. 165-180.
Ullah AKM A. 2010. Pre-marital pregnancies among migrant workers: A case of domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 16(1) pp. 62-90.
Ullah AKM A. 2010a. Rationalizing Migration Decisions: Labour Migrants in South and South-East Asia. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Vitanza S. Vogel L.C.M. and Marshall L.L. 1995. Distress and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in abused women. Violence and Victims 10(1).
Wong S.L. Moore M. and Chin J.K. 2008. Hong Kong: Demographic Change and International Labour Mobility. Demographic Change International Labor Mobility in the Asia Pacific Region: Implications For Business And Cooperation. PECC-ABAC Conference Seoul. Korea 25-26 March.
World News. 2014. Hong Kong government has a duty to respect the rights of domestic helpers. 3 May.