Meet our intern – Tiffany Wei
Tiffany worked for 6 weeks as an intern for PathFinders' Access to Justice Programme, which is now evolving to Equal Justice. Tiffany will be going to the UK where she will be studying for her Bachelor of Laws Degree at King’s College London. Thank you Tiffany for all your hard work and commitment to PathFinders!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM THIS INTERNSHIP?
It never struck me how vulnerable migrant women and their children are in Hong Kong.
Imagine being the breadwinner of your family and heading to a completely alien country to work. You are required to live in a stranger’s home not as a guest, but as a domestic worker. You may be aware of your rights, but who will help you enforce them? Being placed in such a vulnerable position, you are highly susceptible to abuse and discrimination – but oh wait, you came here as part of an economic agreement between two countries. Never mind then, just be a good girl and don’t even think about dating anyone or starting a family because that would not be right.
Fact is, domestic helpers have needs, just as you and I do. They have every right to start a family and embrace their womanhood – such rights are protected under Hong Kong law. Like other employees in Hong Kong, domestic helpers are entitled to statutory maternity leave and should be respected as women, not viewed as mere economic tools. Another enigmatic legal problem that follows is the rights of their children – how can we ensure that they are cared for and have access to proper healthcare and education, in Hong Kong or elsewhere? There are too many cases of vulnerable migrant children being undocumented and swept under the carpet – these children matter but are neglected by the system.
I guess what I’m trying to articulate is that this internship has shifted my mindset. This internship exposed me to different stories of migrant women and their children, and allowed me to assist many of the clients first-hand. The vulnerability of this population is palpable and I now have a newfound respect for migrant women in Hong Kong! PathFinders has a passionate and sophisticated team and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work amongst them.
WHAT ACTIVITIES HAVE YOU BEEN PARTICIPATING IN?
There was a flexible work arrangement during the COVID-19 pandemic, which enabled me to work from home when possible.
I drafted legal documents and research notes for the Access to Justice Team. There was quite a bit of family law, such as cross-border maintenance and paternity claims. I also researched employment law, which included cases of unlawful dismissal and wage default. Another notable research project I assisted in was the data collection on previous cases which concerned breach of Employment or Sex Discrimination Ordinance, which helped generate an overview of the legal loopholes in Hong Kong’s system.
Besides legal research, I also accompanied clients to extend their visas at Immigration Department, give statement at the Labour Department Employment Claims Criminal Investigation Unit, and serve originating summons at the birthfather’s address. These opportunities allowed me to interact with the clients and get to know them better – it was interesting to see how they have different profiles, personalities and needs. The experience of lodging a legal aid application at the Legal Aid Department was new to me and I had to explain the client’s case to the officer to obtain the correct forms.
WHAT KIND OF CHANGE IN SOCIETY DO YOU HOPE FOR?
I hope to change society’s perception of migrant women and that we can view them as strong women who are working far away from home and contributing to Hong Kong’s economy. They deserve more empathy and respect from the general public.
I also hope to witness some reform in the law, such as waiving the live-in requirement for domestic helpers during their maternity leave. This would better serve the interest of migrant children and ensure that they are cared for. Pathfinders has been working hard in this aspect by making submissions to the Legislative Council – kudos to them!
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