An Indonesian domestic helper and citizen journalist deported from Hong Kong for overstaying her visa said on Saturday she was forced to take off her clothes in front of a male doctor during her detention, as about 100 people joined a rally in Central to throw their support behind her.
Yuli Riswati, 39, was deported on December 2 following her arrest on September 23 for overstaying her visa which had expired on July 27. She was detained at Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) on November 4.
Speaking from Indonesia in a live call to the rally at Edinburgh Place, Yuli said her "humiliating" experience at the start of her 29 days in detention had left her feeling depressed.
"They told me to take off my clothes for medical examination. But I was horrified when I found out that the doctor was a man," she said.
"In Islamic beliefs, a woman's body should not be seen by a man outside their family. But they forced me to take off my clothes. I'm a Muslim woman. It was so humiliating to do that in front of a man."
The crowd at the rally chanted "We support Yuli" as she talked, reducing Yuli to tears.
"We're all like a family now. I hope you can also support my friends, too. Many ethnic minorities were also abused at the CIC," she said over the phone in Cantonese.
The rally called on the government to respect foreign domestic workers' freedom of speech and right to take part in political activities.
Yuli's supporters have accused the government of expelling her because she wrote about the civil unrest on Indonesian online news outlet Migran Pos, which she launched in March. They also questioned why authorities had to detain her for such a long period of time.
Fish Ip Pui-yu, regional coordinator of the International Domestic Workers' Federation, said domestic workers who forget to renew their visas could ask their employers to give a written statement and a copy of their work contract to the Immigration Department.
Ip wondered why Yuli was detained, despite her employers submitting the necessary documents to extend her visa.
The Immigration Department earlier declined to comment on individual cases, but said the law gave it the power to arrest, detain, prosecute and deport anyone for violating their conditions of stay. It added it always dealt with cases fairly and impartially before making a decision.
The Post has approached the department regarding Yuli's most recent allegations.
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