"Once they arrive in Hong Kong, workers must be on call day and night. Many families relegate helpers to sleeping in hallways or on the kitchen floor. Shorted checks, physical abuse, and sexual assault are all too common, to say nothing of the everyday discrimination that Southeast Asians face from the territory’s Cantonese majority. With little spare income, and often poor education, most domestic workers bear these hardships in silence. The few avenues of legal recourse they have are prohibitively expensive, difficult to navigate, and can take weeks or months. If a helper is fired, she has just two weeks to find work elsewhere before she’s deported. But no one can take away their Sunday. Which is why, since the 1980s, as a critical mass of Filipino migrants took to the streets, domestic workers have made the thousands-strong outings a weekly ritual.
One pair of young friends celebrates a birthday with a lavishly decorated cake. Ladies at the next camp are doing each other’s hair. At a third, a woman snacks on a handful of melon seeds while nose-deep in a pamphlet on migrant workers’ rights.
'Sunday is when migrant workers can meet friends from their countries,' says Phosuk Gasing, an executive committee member of the IDWF who’s worked as a helper in Hong Kong for 26 years. 'They can speak the same language, taste food from their homes, and share problems and how to solve them.' The IDWF’s on-the-ground affiliate, the Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, represents migrants to the government, disseminates educational materials, and advocates for survivors of human trafficking and employer abuse."Click through for some great pictures as well.