HELPERS – Another Helper Escapes 9 Months of Physical & Verbal Abuse 3

A 37-year-old Filipino helper, widow and mother of two, has escaped after a nine-month ordeal at the hands of an abusive employer.

Rowena Uychiat sits with Activists

Eman Villanueva of the Justice for Erwiana Committe, Rowena Uychiat & Cynthia Abdon-Tellez of Mission for Migrant Workers this morning.

Throughout her employment, Rowena Uychiat was allegedly forced to work 21 hours a day (6am till 3am) without a day off. She claims to have been slapped, kicked, verbally abused and had her hair pulled. Rowena says her passport and HKID were illegally confiscated and that she was overcharged by her Filipino recruitment agency, having been made to pay the equivalent of HK$8,770.

Rowena Uychiat abuse

Rowena Uychiat’s photograph of her bruising

The case bears similarities to the plight of Erwiana, an Indonesian helper whose former employer is currently on trial for suspected torture. The hearing has been postponed till May 20th.

Rowena was able to escape after her employer’s family went to Macau. A relative, who happened to be a client of the NGO supporting Erwiana, Mission for Migrant Workers, raised the alarm. Activists at the NGO assisted her escape and say that she is keen to pursue justice.

Earlier this year, another helper was hospitalised after her employer attempted to chop off her fingers. Meanwhile, the helper community poured onto the streets on Labour Day calling for the government to act…

via Channel News Asia/AFP

via Channel News Asia/AFP

Justice for Erwiana Committee spokesperson, Eni Lestari, said that “the fact that Rowena, a Filipina can suffer almost the same experience as Erwiana, means these kind of abuses can happen to anyone irrespective of nationality… The policies that allow slavery to exist are the same policies that cover every migrant domestic worker in Hong Kong.” Eman Villanueva, also of the Justice Committee, said, “The policies that govern migrant domestic workers are designed to keep them disempowered, vulnerable, and desperate

This morning's press conference.

This morning’s press conference was attended by Meredith McBride of the HK Helpers Campaign.

Despite international pressure, pleas from NGOs and global media attention, the rules that enable such abuse remain unchanged.

Justice for Erwiana Committee

Earlier this month, Erwiana was honoured as one of TIME Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in the World’ for her determination to peruse justice…

TIME Magazine - Erwiana

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3 thoughts on “HELPERS – Another Helper Escapes 9 Months of Physical & Verbal Abuse

  • Joseph Lau

    Oh my,here we go again,an opportunistic move from a citizen of a certain country!Being poor does not excuse one to lie its’ way for monetary gain or attention.Judging from this complainant’s country of origin,I am betting that a part of the settlement she will seek is a permanent residency card.blatant opportunism after the city gave her employment that she will never find from her country.

  • PhilChance

    I am in no way for the way these people have been treated & charges should be brought just as if the “helper” was a neighbor. However each time I hear there is a problem I wonder why local citizens are not being hired instead. There are plenty available via the erb smart living program. Why is HK allowing foreign workers when they have so many of their own needing employment? The woes of the employee are coming to the surface, perhaps is it time for the employers to air the same.

  • No need to figure

    The case against the employer was dropped on November 21, 2014 due to accusations unfounded. The claim that Uychiat was forced to work 21 hours a day without a day off was disputed by the weekly-leave documents signed off by Uychiat, and CCTV footages of the building showing Uychiat leaving and entering during the 10 days before the family took the trip out of HK, which Uychial claimed was the mere chance she took to escape. Besides, according to the defendant, Uychiat didn’t even know how to cook that she only do the cleaning of the house.