Ladegaard, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University who has interviewed more than 400 maids, most of whom were living in shelters.
(Participate in our Google Hangout about maid abuse.) In September last year, a couple was sentenced to prison by a Hong Kong court for burning their Indonesian maid with an iron and whipping her with a bicycle chain.
“The system is so weighted against domestic helpers,” said Melville Boase, a solicitor in Hong Kong who has represented maids for three decades. Most of them are here to support their families,” he said.
In a survey of more than 3,000 live-in maids released last year by the Mission for Migrant Workers, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, 58% said they had experienced verbal abuse; 37% said they worked 16-hour days; 18% said they experienced physical abuse such as slapping and kicking; and 6% said they had been subjected to rape, touching or sexual comments in the homes of their employers.
But incidents of abuse often stay hidden from public view.