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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                    

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a free market economy highly dependent on international trade and finance, which has left it heavily exposed to the global economic slowdown that began in 2008.

The territory has become increasingly integrated with mainland China over the past few years through trade, tourism, and financial links. The mainland has long been Hong Kong's largest trading partner,

During the past decade, as Hong Kong's manufacturing industry moved to the mainland, its service industry has grown rapidly and now accounts for more than 90% of the territory's GDP. Hong Kong's natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: HongKong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China is a destination and transit territory for men and women from mainland China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Hong Kong is primarily a transit point for illegal migrants, some of whom are subject to conditions of debt bondage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, and forced labor. Hong Kong is also a destination for women from the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia who travel to Hong Kong voluntarily for legal employment in restaurants, bars, and hotels, but upon arrival are coerced into prostitution under conditions of debt bondage. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out ta later country report here or a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Hong Kong.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Hong Kong Police Department
2343 2255
Country code: 852-



Action for REACH OUT - Hotline 852 2770-1002

[accessed 26 January 2016]   - and -

[accessed 29 January 2018]

NATURE OF SERVICES: OUTREACH -As a client driven organization we are constantly creating, adding and/or modifying our services, based upon what our clients have expressed as helpful and/or necessary. Presently, we are helping women with the following:

q  information on HIV/AIDS

q  limited legal advice

q  accompanying women through the police and legal system

q  giving information on support groups in women's home countries

We have a Hotline that is open two nights a week for three hours a night, staffed by trained volunteers. The Hotline is open to all women working in the commercial sex industry (CSI) who need advice, counselling or just an open, non-judgmental person to talk to. Additionally a pager is held by a trained volunteer 24 hours a day to handle any emergencies.  We organize face-to-face outreaches with the women in Mong Kok, Shamshuipo, Tsim Sha Tsui and other districts.

Trafficked in China, originally from Bolivia

Oliver Poole. “Young Mother’s Dream of Fast Fortune Ended in Nightmare” South China Morning Post (11 March 1997)

[accessed 8 February 2011]

TESTIMONY OF PATRICIA - From her home in an impoverished village in rural Bolivia, the prospect of quick riches as an escort girl proved impossible to resist for 23-year-old Patricia Suarez.  A neighbor working for a Hong Kong gang suggested the trip, promising the young mother an escape from part-time work as a domestic servant that paid only US $50 (HK $387) a week.  Desperate for money, the former university student left her two-month old baby with her mother and six brothers and sisters—unaware that she was heading for a nightmare trapped in a sleazy underworld.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Hong Kong

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 June 2021]


NGOs expressed concerns that some migrant workers, especially domestic workers in private homes, faced high levels of indebtedness assumed as part of the recruitment process, creating a risk they could fall victim to debt bondage. Domestic workers in Hong Kong were mostly women and mainly came from the Philippines, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries. The SAR allows for the collection of maximum placement fees of 10 percent of the first month’s wages, but some recruitment firms required large up-front fees in the country of origin that workers struggled to repay. Some locally licensed employment agencies were suspected of colluding with agencies overseas to profit from debt schemes, and some local agencies illegally confiscated the passports and employment contracts of domestic workers and withheld them until they repaid the debt. In August officials concluded a year-long investigation, arresting and jailing three SAR residents for participating in a predatory loan syndicate involving local Philippine employment agencies.


The Labor Department effectively enforced these laws and regularly inspected workplaces to enforce compliance with the regulations.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 28 April 2020]


While most Hong Kong residents enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation, certain vulnerable and marginalized communities face substantial risks of exploitation and abuse. For instance, Hong Kong’s roughly 380,000 foreign household workers are vulnerable to a wide range of exploitative practices. Since they may face deportation if dismissed, many are reluctant to bring complaints against employers.

2 Filipinas convicted of trafficking in HK

Philip Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/21/2007

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Similar article:

[accessed 26 January 2016]

FACTS ARE CLEAR - “The facts are very clear. You arranged for the five women to be brought to Hong Kong from the Philippines for the purpose of prostitution,” she said.

The women—aged 24 to 39—were made to work as prostitutes because they owed the traffickers P60,000 for their air fare and accommodations.

The victims sought the help of the Philippine consulate and the police because, contrary to the traffickers’ promises, they were not adequately fed and were housed in cramped apartments.

Judges asked to clamp down on trafficking

South African Press Association SAPA, October 19 2007

[accessed 8 February 2011]

"Malawian women are sold by Nigerian syndicates... to Germany, Italy and Belgium, and this all happens via South Africa."  She said South Africans themselves were being trafficked to Hong Kong and Macau.  Chinese traffickers were using Johannesburg as a transit point for Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique, Majokweni said. Russian and Bulgarian women were exploited in private clubs and venues in Johannesburg.

Filipinas in the slave trade

Editorial, The Manila Times, January 10, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 6 September 2011]

Filipinas are sweet-talked into accepting what are promised to be good-paying jobs in Hong Kong as “receptionists” and “entertainers.” But right at bat, they are made to understand that there is going to be some sleight of hand in bringing them to their destination. Their working visas will be handed to them only after their plane has left the Philippines to prevent some nosy immigration officer from asking questions about their purpose of going to Hong Kong.  The desperate and the naïve readily agree to the conditions, not knowing they have just signed up as the latest victims of human trafficking.

There are times when being a “receptionist” or “entertainer” entails more than just engaging customers in small talk and sharing drinks with them. Once they render such intimate services, the women switch labels. They will join the segment of the working class sociologists refer to as sex workers.  Those who can’t stand the rigors of work and opt to cut their contract short are asked to reimburse the plane fare and other expenses incurred in bringing them over. Plus rent. Afraid, confused and with little or no money at all, the poor Filipinas are left with no choice, but to stay on

Gonzalez Orders Crackdown on Human Traffickers

[Last access date unavailable]

The report further stated that the girls in Hong Kong are brought to boarding houses where they are given “orientations” or “lectures” and are also asked to take drugs. Their work starts at 6 p.m. in the bars and they are required to entice at least seven (7) customers a night. They are brought inside small dark rooms where anything can happen. Some girls have abandoned their work, and those who refuse to cooperate are asked to pay some Php40,000.00 before they are allowed to go. The Hong Kong Consulate reports that on a daily basis, ten (10) to twenty (20) Filipinas enter Hong Kong based on this scheme.

Government Action Plans

[accessed 8 February 2011]

ACTION PLAN OVERVIEW - There is no official Action Plan in Hong Kong to combat trafficking.

Hong Kong is not a destination for human trafficking. Nor is it a place of origin for exporting illegal migrants. We disagree that Hong Kong is a point of transit and destination for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. But we will continue to be vigilant and work closely with the relevant authorities to prevent such activities.

Hong Kong welcomes US report on human trafficking

Press Release, June 12, 2003

[accessed 8 February 2011]

"Hong Kong is not a destination for human trafficking. Nor is it a place of origin for exporting illegal migrants. We disagree that Hong Kong is a point of transit and destination for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour. But we will continue to be vigilant and work closely with the relevant authorities to prevent such activities.

"We will continue to cooperate with our law enforcement partners in the region and overseas. The Government will also continue to allocate sufficient resources to support this important area of work," he added.

Research Projects and Issues > Trafficking Project

Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

[accessed 8 February 2011]


q Occasional Paper on Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the purpose of prostitution

q Round Table on Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the Purposes of Prostitution

q Migrant Nightclub/Escort Workers in Hong Kong: An Analysis of Possible Human Rights Violations

Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise"

Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet, May 15, 2002

[accessed 8 February 2011]

For Asian sweatshop operators, the Marianas became the Promised Land incarnate. Since the islands were officially U.S. territory, garment factories there were able to tag their products with the coveted "Made in the USA" label. No rules, no regulators, no inspectors, no health and safety laws. What more could a sweatshop operator ask for?

The opportunity was quickly recognized by Asian sweatshop operators like Hong Kong's Tan Holdings, run by garment mogul Willie Tan. Deep in the lush jungles, far from the island's white beaches and luxury hotels, garment factories quickly set up shop. They staffed their factories with workers from China and the Philippines with promises of work in the US. But, workers soon discovered that the work contracts they signed consigned them to near-indentured servitude deep in the Marianas steamy jungles. Wages were low, hours were long. The companies docked workers' pay for housing, food, medical treatments and other charges. The low wages and high deductions made it nearly impossible for workers to save enough money to return home.

Forced Prostitution of Filipinas in Hong Kong

S. Samydorai, Asian Human Rights Commission, Vol. 03 No. 01 JAN 1993 (Vol. 03)

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 6 September 2011]

Domestic helpers pay the equivalent of two-and-a-half months salary for their jobs. Before they leave the Philippines, a list of debts are incurred for pre-employment expenses. Normally, it takes one-and-a-half years of working abroad to service personal debts. After that, earnings are usually spent on the education of their children and on the latest appliances available on the market.

The Protection Project - Hong Kong [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Women from China’s southwestern region are trafficked to Hong Kong for commercial sexual exploitation. Women from Guizhou are lured from rural areas with promises of high-paying jobs in Hong Kong, where they are instead forced into prostitution.  One 19-year-old victim from Guizhou province claimed she was forced to entertain more than 400 customers over a 26-day period and as many as 28 in a single day. Another woman claimed that she had been forced to service 130 clients in a 1-month period. Both women claimed that they were also forced to make pornographic films.

Thai and Filipino women are brought into Hong Kong on the pretense of being given jobs as entertainers; instead, they often find themselves locked in apartments during the day and forced to work as hostesses in bars at night, providing sex to customers.


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 28 April 2020]


Hong Kong’s roughly 330,000 foreign household workers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Since they may face deportation if dismissed, many are reluctant to bring complaints against employers. There have been reports of abuses against sex workers by law enforcement officers.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

HONG KONG - TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There is no law prohibiting trafficking in persons. There are various laws and ordinances that allow law enforcement authorities to take action against traffickers. Despite robust efforts by the SAR government to stop such activities, Hong Kong was a point of transit and destination for a small number of persons trafficked for sexual exploitation from China and Southeast Asia. It was difficult for the government to identify trafficking victims from among the larger group of illegal immigrants.

Nearly all foreign prostitutes came to Hong Kong willingly to engage in prostitution. Most came from rural areas of the mainland, Thailand, or the Philippines on 14-day tourist visas, although a very small number entered using forged documents. The overwhelming majority were women, although an increasing number of young men were coming to Hong Kong to work as homosexual prostitutes. While many came on their own, some were lured to the SAR by criminal syndicates and promises of financial rewards. Prostitutes were typically required to repay the syndicates the cost of their airfare, lodging, and food. Some were forced to stay in Hong Kong longer than they anticipated, or work more than they expected, to repay their debts. Prostitutes were sometimes required to give their passports to the syndicates until the debt was paid. When their visas expired, many would travel to Macau or Shenzhen for a day, and then re-enter Hong Kong. Immigration officials were well aware of this practice and would deny re-entry if they suspected such abuse. Despite the involvement of syndicates in bringing prostitutes to Hong Kong, very few women were lured to the SAR with false promises of legitimate employment and then forced, or coerced, to work as prostitutes.

Traffickers have used forged or illegally obtained travel documents to attempt to smuggle persons through the Hong Kong airport. In 2004 the immigration department established the Anti-Illegal Migration Agency to target human smugglers and other travelers using fraudulent documents. The agency had 60 officers stationed at the Hong Kong International Airport. The number of fraudulent documents seized at the airport declined sharply during the first half of the year due to the presence of these officers. Authorities apprehended 834 persons with forged travel documents in the first half of the year, versus 1,288 during the same period in 2004.

During the year there were no known reports of persons being trafficked into the SAR to work as domestic workers

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