The Dark Side of an Overseas Contract Worker’s Life

Eye On Taiwan
Op Ed
Date: May 4, 2016

By: David Wang

An undisclosed but likely large number of overseas contract workers in Taiwan run away before contract expiry for variety of reasons, one of which being paid slave wages that will never enable them to escape penury.

But some simply run away to escape inhumane treatment.

According to an UDN article posted on Yahoo Taiwan dated May 2, 2016, Annie, 26-year-old Indonesian, finally could not bear the abuse, drew a deep breath and ducked out of the 4-story home of her boss, just one of many Taiwanese who display sociopathic tendencies to actually need professional help.

Annie had borrowed some US$2,500, a princely sum for rural Indonesians who are paid about US$470 monthly in Taiwan, to pay a broker to find work in Taiwan, believing she’d be caring for an elderly. But she ended up, after being stripped of her passport and mobile phone to control her free movement, cleaning house, washing car, tidying up a garden and babysitting 4 kids that keeps her busy till 2 or 3 a.m.

But many OCWs in Taiwan take for granted breach of contract and having to work inhumane hours, deprived of quality sleep, poor diet (sometimes being underfed), adequate time-off and most of all- freedom.

Four years and 2 months of slavery aside, Annie had to bear occasional beatings by her boss, who would kick her and smash her head against a wall whenever rage took over.

Annie feared daily if her boss would beat her up again.

Earlier this year, her boss again used Annie as punching bag that broke the last straw. Annie snuck out clutching a paper with the address of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei as her only savior, and now lives in a social services facility, with mask on likely as manifestation of fear that prevents her from looking straight at anyone.

The report, unsurprisingly, does not mention legal liability. Employers in Taiwan can get away with abusing OCWs, who tend to remain reticent due to being accustomed to second-class citizenship, a fact of life in Asia for the impoverished. Nor does it say anything about referring the female boss to a doctor for professional counseling for she obviously shows sociopathic tendencies as is regularly reported in Taiwan.

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