Art gallery explores domestic workers' plight in HK
HONG KONG – Some works of Filipino artists are featured in an exhibit exploring issues of race, labor, discrimination and migrant domestic workers here.
Among them was a video presentation of Poklong Anading, whose mother worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for 11 years and who died of cancer shortly after she returned to the Philippines.
According to Cosmin Costinas, executive director and curator of Para Site, which is running the exhibition "Afterwork," when Anading first went to Hong Kong, he chose to go to the places in the photographs of his mother when she was here.
"Afterwork," which started in March, will run until May 9 in Quarry Bay in Hong Kong island. So far, the exhibit, Costinas said, has attracted some 6,000 to 7,000 visitors, including two lawmakers.
On Sunday, Hong Kong lawmaker Emily Lau brought with her to the exhibit 15 domestic helpers from Enrich and Helpers for Domestic Helpers on a tour guided by Costinas.
The group visited the exhibition ahead of the May 24 debate on the new Draft Code of Practice for Employment Agencies by the Panel on Manpower of the Legislative Council.
In an open discussion after the tour, Lau said the Hong Kong government must be more pro-active in fostering a safer work environment for migrant domestic workers in the city.
"The government needs to set up a mechanism to handle complaints," said Lau. "They need to improve the existing system to handle disputes between the employees, employers and agencies. Employers also need better education on labour code compliance.
‘We must also continue to push the Philippines and Indonesian governments to do more for their people, and to defend the rights of domestic helpers," Lau said.
Another lawmaker, Fernando Cheung, who also joined the tour, said he believes the young people of Hong Kong will pave the way for a city that would be friendlier to domestic workers.
"More cultural exchange is needed to help improve communication. This exhibit helps us understand each other as human beings and not just as domestic helpers or employers," he said. —KBK, GMA News