Police last night arrested a 79-year-old woman in Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin district after a Facebook live video of her slapping and threatening to kill her Indonesian domestic helper went viral.
The video shows the suspect repeatedly smacking her helper in the face and across the mouth while the helper can be heard saying in Indonesian Bahasa: “Oh God, I’m being smacked. I don’t accept her speaking that way to me.” At one point the older woman can be seen jabbing the victim in the cheek with her finger.
The 79-year-old employer surnamed Pang was arrested for common assault and criminal intimidation. She was later released on bail and has to report back to the police station next week, Sing Tao Daily reports.
Apple Daily reported that Pang lives in an apartment in Grand View Garden in Wong Tai Sin and hired the 35-year-old helper last year. She also has a son who lives and works in the mainland and returns to Hong Kong once a week to visit her.
According to the newspaper, who managed to get in touch with the helper, the incident caught on camera was the third time this has happened, and that on the last two occasions, Pang’s son would ask the helper to forgive his mother.
In the video, the employer can be heard saying: “You’re so evil, what are you saying about me? Speak! Speak my language. What are you saying? Use Chinese.”
At various points during the tirade, the employer attempts to physically drag the helper off the bed, tells her to leave, calls the helper useless, blames her for making her lose her temper, and even threatens to kill her.
The video sparked widespread condemnation from Facebook, with many urging the helper to call the police.
It also raises concerns over the mandatory live-in rule that requires maids to live with their employers.
Last month, Hong Kong’s High Court dismissed arguments from rights activists that the requirement leaves domestic helpers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
The judge said the rule did not violate fundamental rights, and that if maids didn’t like the live-in rule, they could quit or not come to Hong Kong in the first place.
HELP for Domestic Workers, an NGO that provides advice and assistance to domestic helpers in Hong Kong, said “This, again, shines a spotlight on the live in rule which, makes domestic workers vulnerable, not only to physical abuse but to malicious allegations of criminal offence. If the domestic worker on the video was resting outside the home of the employer, the likelihood of such an incident occurring would have been reduced.”
In a statement sent to Coconuts HK, the NGO said there is often a lack of interest among the police to pursue abuse cases where the victim is a domestic helper.
“Worse, trumped up accusations can easily be made against domestic workers who complain of being abused in order to put pressure on them to withdraw their complaints.
“From our experience, if the incident had not been captured on video, the police might not have arrested the employer, especially if there is no visible injury to the victim, even though, as reported, it was not the first time the employer had assaulted her.”
This story has been updated with the latest information.
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