Darshin*, who used to live with her aunt’s family back home in Sri Lanka, owed credit and felt a responsibility to care for and repay her relatives. It was for these reasons that she was motivated to accept an overseas job from her aunt’s friend, Shani. Shani, who along with another woman named Sumi, arranged private employment for Darshin while also demanding three months’ of her salary which amounted to almost HKD13,000.
Darshin’s arrival to her employer’s residence included a living condition stipulated in her contract – she was to reside in a private room with a bathroom and fridge instead; she was made to clean the storage room and use the space as her room. The storeroom had an old refrigerator, some old dirty clothes, and a cupboard. She was not allowed to keep any of her belongings in the storeroom she was to call her “room,” and instead was asked to leave her items at a friend’s place.
Darshin was made to work 15 hours daily and was often scolded by her employer’s mother while doing housework. She admitted that she felt scared and stressed when her employer’s mother was nearby. In addition to those stressors, Darshin was made to change bulky bedsheets every day, which lead to back pains because of their weight. Later, Darshin fell ill with nosebleeds, chest pains, and dizziness and was told by the hospital, at discharge, due to health, she was unsuitable for work. But, as her employer’s mother kept verbally abusing her, she took medicine and began to work long hours once again.
Darshin attempted to indicate her displeasure at the living conditions; her employer replied, “when you get sick you have insurance.” That was the first sign to Darshin that her future experience would be vastly different from her expectations.
“I [came] to work, not to get sick.”
Darshin had taken the job to become financially responsible and instead ended up in an awful situation. After four months of working for her employers, Darshin finally terminated her contract and then sought help from lawyers. Darshin is currently waiting for justice in this situation.
*All names and identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivors.
Indicators of trafficking for labour exploitation:
- Deceptive recruitment – Darshin was deceived about the nature of the job.
- Exploitation – excessive working hours and bad living conditions.
- Abuse of employer side by power – employer’s mother keep monitoring and scolding Darshin.
- Abuse of vulnerability – dependency on exploiters due to economic reasons and family situation.
Are you or someone you know being trafficked?
Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.
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Story provided by STOP (Stop Trafficking of People).