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38% of migrant home helpers in Taiwan abused: report

2019/11/22 20:49

CNA file photo for illustrative purposes only

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) About 38 percent of migrant home helpers in Taiwan have been verbally or physically abused by employers or other family members, with fewer than half seeking help, a report conducted by the Garden of Hope Foundation found.

Currently, there are about 250,000 migrant home helpers in Taiwan, over 240,000 caregivers and 1,800 maids, foundation executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said when revealing the results of the report at a workshop Friday.

The main reason the victims did not ask for help after being exploited, physically attacked or even sexually assaulted is that they fear losing their jobs, a concern cited by 35 percent of interviewees, said Kaili Lee (李凱莉), director of the foundation's migrant assistance center.

About 31 percent ascribed it to their inability to speak Chinese, while 26 percent said they did not know who to turn to for help, she went on to say.

Those who sought help most often used the 1995 hot line, labor brokerages, friends, relatives or the local labor authorities, Lee said.

The foundation started the survey in March, collecting 510 valid questionnaires from 400 domestic helpers from the Philippines, 104 from Indonesia and six from Vietnam, with over 60 percent having worked in Taiwan for more than three years.

Although it is illegal in Taiwan for employers to keep the passport, national health insurance card or residency permit of foreign home helpers, more than 20 percent of respondents said their documents were held by their employers, Lee pointed out.

In addition, about 84 percent of caregivers said they were required to look after the person in need alone, while 35 percent said they hardly had an uninterrupted rest period of eight hours every day, the report found.

Although Taiwan raised the monthly wage for foreign domestic helpers from NT$15,840 (US$520) to NT$17,000 in September 2015, 29.61 percent of the respondents received less than that per month, according to the report.

The report also discovered that employers' failure to provide safe accommodation and having no substitute help correlated highly with incidences of sexual abuse against home helpers, the latter situation being particularly predictive, Lee said.

Migrant domestic helpers are not covered by Taiwan's Labor Standards Act, and they need the consent of their employers to receive a pay hike, which analysts said accounts for the stagnation in wages for nearly one third of them.

(By Flor Wang and Wu Hsin-yun)Enditem/AW