Not too many people probably know about the “slave grooms of Hong Kong” and a lot might be surprised to find out that it’s not just the women who get tricked into human trafficking.
A report from South China Morning Post shed light on this unpopular issue where Indian and Pakistani men are “tricked into arranged marriages and trafficked to Hong Kong” to work as servants and laborers.
It starts when future-in-laws select these men and promise them better lives in a modern and prosperous city. It’s obviously an attractive offer if it means that it could also help their families back in their third-world homes.
Once in Hong Kong, these men are bound by loveless marriages wherein the wives and her family members force them to work as a bonded-laborers. To add to the terror, they are also subject to verbal, physical, and mental abuse.
A man under the name Shahid Sandhu shared his horrifying experience as a victim of this deal.
Once he was married, his in-laws took his passport for “safe-keeping”, which is illegal. He was coerced into working overtime at a construction yard, and when he didn’t work, he was forced to do housework.
Sandhu said that not only were they abusing him, but they also took his money, refused him meals, and threatened to kill him. But although he knows that what they’re doing is illegal, Sandhu was mentally broken, making him afraid and ashamed to speak out.
“My in-laws were always bullying me. Although I am a university graduate, I was always called illiterate and a jungle man. Once I shouted back at them and they beat me. After that I was resigned to my fate and work,” said Sandhu.
Sandhu did eventually muster the will to contact immigration consultant Richard Aziz Butt after getting his number from a friend at work. Sandhu told Butt, “I need to get out.” Unfortunately, Sandhu was too fearful to do what was necessary, which was to go to the police, our of fear of getting deported and shamed by his in-laws.
Butt said of Sandhu’s case:
“I would call him a slave groom. His marriage was arranged so that he could be brought here to work as a machine to earn money for the bride’s family. All these things are elements of slavery. The [victims] are monitored 24 hours [by their tormentors]. These people will not talk [to the police] even if they are abused.”
Hong Kong psychologist Tony Dickinson said that although these men are physically strong and able to work in construction, it’s the fear that ties them to their hellish situations.
According to Asian Correspondent, abuse of domestic workers is common in Hong Kong. But although the government has promised to take action to this growing problem, their efforts have been slow.