Hong Kong country club bans domestic helpers from pool

Lily Kuo
Hong Kong is home to more than 350,000 domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines, as well as Indonesia and Thailand. Photograph: DuKai photographer/Getty Images

A sign at a country club in Hong Kong prohibiting domestic helpers from its pool has prompted anger after it was circulated on social media.

Hong Kong is home to more than 350,000 domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines, as well as Indonesia and Thailand. They often have to work long hours for low pay, and in some cases are subject to abuse and inhumane work and living conditions – an ongoing source of controversy in Hong Kong.

A sign at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club barring domestic helpers from the club’s pool area circulated on social media and reignited that debate over the weekend.

“Slavery at its best,” one user wrote, among a string of comments in response to the photo of sign at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. “Thank you so much for not allowing us domestic helpers ... to swim [there] as we know most of the employers are not that very clean,” another said.

“Pretty shameful indeed. Was shocked when I saw it the first time. Helpers aren’t allowed in the pool area at all. Even sitting on the lounge chairs. It’s absurd,” another user wrote on a Facebook page for Hong Kong mothers, according to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong paper.

The Clearwater Bay club told the paper it had put in the restrictions to prevent overcrowding and “ensure all visitors’ safety”. The club said benches at a seating area near the pool were for domestic helpers. The club did not respond to requests for comment.

It is not the only club in Hong Kong to restrict the movements of domestic helpers, who are often charged with taking care of the children of the city’s middle class and wealthy families. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club says on its website that domestic helpers “are not allowed on club premises”.

Rules at other clubs regarding domestic helpers include not walking through restaurants, waiting only in designated areas, and registering with security each time they visit.