Mother and daughters in Taiwan charged with serious mistreatment of live-in Indonesian domestic helper

Picture for illustration purpose only.

25th May 2023 – (Taipei) A woman and her two adult daughters have been charged with multiple offences after prosecutors investigated alleged serious mistreatment of a live-in Indonesian domestic helper. The three women were charged with confining the migrant worker to the residence, beating her, confiscating her phone and passport, making her work for over 21 hours a day, and illegally docking her salary. The mother, named Hou, hired the Indonesian domestic helper after her son had a stroke in May last year.

Prosecutors said during the carer’s nine-month employment, she had her head slammed against a wall, was stomped on, bitten, had water poured on her, and was forced to partially undress. The carer was also made to work from 6.30am to 3am each day, and had NT$10,000 (about US$325) deducted from her salary for doing her laundry five times, prosecutors said.

The domestic helper’s employment agency was alerted to something being wrong after the woman’s spouse contacted them to say he had not heard from his wife in several months, after which the agency contacted the carer. They found the woman badly bruised and without any money.

The agency contacted Taichung’s labour bureau and immigration department. After police searched the residences of Hou and her daughters in late March, all three were detained. Hou was later released on a NT$50,000bail.

The mistreatment of migrant workers is a serious problem in Taiwan, where around 730,000 migrant workers were employed in 2022, making up approximately 6% of Taiwan’s workforce. Many of these workers are sourced from Southeast Asian countries and work in caregiving, agriculture, or construction. They are attracted to Taiwan by the relatively higher wages on offer. However, the mistreatment of migrant workers has been a persistent issue, with reports of abuse and exploitation making headlines in recent years.

In response to the mistreatment of migrant workers, Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour announced on 23rd May that it would ease immigration restrictions to allow an additional 28,000 migrant workers into the country. Half of these workers will work in caregiving roles. The move is aimed at providing more protection to migrant workers and addressing the labour shortages faced by Taiwan’s aging population.