Recruitment agencies deceive domestic helpers with the promise of well-paid jobs in Moscow, getting US$ 3,500-5,500 in fees. Victims are forced to turn to banks or loan sharks. About 75,000 Filipino workers worldwide are stuck in limbo with no income.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hong Kong has been fertile ground for job recruitment fraud.
Thousands of Filipino domestic helpers end up s victims of human trafficking in countries like Russia, Brazil and Turkey for jobs that do not exist, a senior Filipino official told the South China Morning Post, speaking on condition of anonymity.
More than 4,000 undocumented Filipinos are currently working in Russia, the senior official said, citing statistics from the Filipino embassy in Moscow. Most of the workers are former Hong Kong domestic helpers transiting through the city.
The official added that some cases of trafficking from the city to Russia date back seven years and that Filipinos from other places like Singapore and Taipei are also involved.
Jalilo Dela Torre, labour attaché at the Filipino consulate in Hong Kong, confirmed the situation and said some Hong Kong-registered recruitment agents had promised domestic helpers high-paying jobs in Moscow and lured them into breaking their contracts with employers in the city before arranging flights to Moscow.
“The intermediaries would pocket agency fees of HK28,000 to HK,000 (US$ 3,500 to US$ 5,500). Almost all victims would borrow the amount from financial institutions or even loan sharks,” the attaché said.
United Filipinos in Hong Kong chairwoman Dolores Balladares-Pelaez said most Hong Kong helpers get loans to pay agency and training fees totalling up to HK,000 (US$ 1,900) when they first came to the city.
The victims of human-trafficking were therefore already in debt whilst the lucrative jobs they were promised never came to fruition, she explained.
Traffickers approach their victims on Facebook or social media.
Matt Friedman, the chief executive officer of the Mekong Club, a human-trafficking watchdog, said that recruitment agents fabricate job offers tailored to a victim’s preference.
“They would prey on vulnerable domestic helpers who might want more money or better jobs, for example as a social worker or teacher,” Friedman said.
“They were made to believe they could easily repay the debts from agency fees,” but “would eventually be held in a foreign country to repay them.”
Balladares-Pelaez said an estimated 75,000 Filipino workers seeking employment worldwide are stuck in limbo with no income.