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Underage Migrant Workers Pay Price for Child Trafficking by Agencies

Hundreds of underage Indonesian migrant workers have been lured to work in Hong Kong and Singapore on account of fraud and child trafficking practices by recruitment agencies, according to migrant worker rights activists.

“I would say there are hundreds of Indonesian domestic helpers who are underage…and a few Filipinos [we know of]. It is child trafficking. It is evil. It damages the child,” said Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission For Migrant Workers in Hong Kong, as quoted by South China Morning Post.

Campaigners say predatory agencies frequently forge dates of birth on passports in order to send hundreds of girls from Indonesia as well as other countries are trafficked into child labour as domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian markets.

Patrick Chan, the general manager of Hong Kong’s Wellmark employment services consultancy, condemns the practice by the Indonesian agencies and also claimed that his agency know nothing about such crime.

“It’s a rotten story. It is child trafficking and child labour….As an agency in Hong Kong, we trust the document that is issued by the government of Indonesia,” he said.

Despite the agencies being the culprits of the crime, they are rarely prosecuted for their actions, Instead, it is the underage migrant workers that end up being legally sanctioned for the situation they find themselves in.

“The workers, unfortunately, as they are the holders of such forged documents…criminality is hard to deny,” said Sandy Wong, chairwoman of the Anti-Human-Trafficking Committee of the Hong Kong Federation of Women Lawyers.


Photo courtesy of Franke Tsang of SCMP

For further reading on Indonesian migrant workers, click here.

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