Author: Li Rongde
Posted on: Caixin Global, February 24th, 2017
Two men are on trial for smuggling in dozens of women from the Philippines and Indonesia using falsified visa documents to supply the lucrative market for domestic helpers on the Chinese mainland, The Beijing News reported Friday.
The defendants told the court that they had recruited over 30 maids, aged 19 to 42, between April and July 2015 to work in homes in China. The pair, along with their business partners overseas, had given to eight Filipinos and six Indonesians fake documents that allowed them to apply for short-term business visas to China between December 2014 and July 2015, according to a statement released by the city prosecutor’s office on Feb. 15. Chinese law prohibits bringing in foreigners to work in low-skilled fields, including as domestic helpers.
The two men, aged 23 and 28, have been charged with the “crime of organizing people to cross the border illegally.” They were detained by police during a raid in July 2015 following a tipoff from a woman forced to work as an interpreter.
Under Chinese law, helping individuals to cross the border illegally is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine based on the extent of illicit gains.
The duo had paid agents in the Philippines and Indonesia 13,000 yuan ($1,900) per maid, including airfare and visa application fees, The Beijing News reported, citing court papers. But they had asked employers for 20,000 to 50,000 yuan as a one-time recruitment fee, the documents showed.
Their employers usually paid the maids 4,000 to 4,500 yuan a month through the two men. But the duo then kept 3,000 yuan each month during the first six months, claiming they had to recoup the money they have paid to their overseas agents, the court papers revealed.
The 23-year-old defendant admitted during the trial to confiscating the women’s passports once they arrived in China until an employer was found.
One Indonesian woman, identified only as Royani, told the court in a written testimony that the defendants had refused to find a job for her and had instead forced her to work as a work as a translator between the two men and other Indonesian recruits, and to train newcomers. She said she was paid a wage for her work. She managed to escape on July 15, 2015, and sought help from the Chinese police.
It is unclear whether the women were abused.
The demand for domestic helpers has grown among China’s affluent class. Many foreign maids are brought to China on a 90-day business visa or short-term tourist visas, and many end up overstaying, according to a recruiter who asked not to be named.
The 14 women who entered China with illegal documents were deported shortly after the two men were detained, the Fengtai district court said.