10 Dec Filipino maid leaps to death after Hong Kong bosses fire her for unproven theft
A domestic helper jumped to her death from a Sha Tin flat yesterday morning after she was accused by her employers of stealing and fired from the job – all while police officers were still taking notes inside the home.
The police were called in to look into allegations by the employers, a couple, that their 47-year-old Filipino helper of two years had been caught sifting through the handbag of a female friend at their 16th-floor Ravana Garden flat in On King Street.
It was understood that the family friend was unable to recall how much money she had inside the bag and the officers were ready to end the investigation, but the couple insisted on firing the helper and told her to pack her belongings.
An initial investigation showed that while she was packing in her bedroom at about 10am, she became emotional and jumped out of a window, police said. She was certified dead at Prince of Wales Hospital.
Police believed there was nothing suspicious about the death and were handling the case as a suicide, possibly over “work issues”. No suicide note was left and an autopsy would be held to determine the cause of death.
Villanueva urged all domestic helpers in difficult situations to stay calm and to contact their friends or NGOs, which would advise them what their rights were and what they could do.
“It goes back again to the issue of domestic helpers not being allowed to live outside, where they can have access to friends. Speaking to someone about it is the first thing to do,” he said. “They are working in the flat six days a week and this is very stressful.”
Villanueva would not speculate on why the helper jumped, but noted that Filipinos were extremely sensitive about dignity and honour and would become distressed easily if fired for theft, accused or proven.
“I have received cases where a domestic helper reports being mistreated by employers or not given proper food, but they will tell me there is nothing worse than being accused of stealing,” he said.