Suniti* arrived in Hong Kong in 2011 on a domestic helper visa. "I don't like that I came as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, but I did not have any other option.." she told me as she smiled nervously. Suniti had a promising career as a dancer in Sri Lanka; she went on tours and was known for her work. She fell in love and married the love of her life; things began to change when her husband turned into an alcoholic. He left his job and began indulging into gambling wasting away all of their savings. That created rifts between the two. His friends would come over at night and stay up drinking, and Suniti was left to clean up in the morning. One of those nights, her husband's friend forced himself on her, shattered Suniti brought it up to her husband who shrugged it off and then it became the norm.
Shocked and traumatized, she decided to escape. By that time Suniti had been raped multiple times, had to get an abortion and was dealing with the shock that her husband had prostituted her to his friends. She joined the Sri Lankan airforce as an airwoman; this was the safest place in the country and far away from her husband. But that did not last very long, within a year her husband tracked her down and began to approach people within the airforce base informing them that Suniti had lied about being unmarried -- a hiring policy in the military bounds women from getting married while serving as a duty officer -- that triggered another wave of harassment and a rape attempt from one of her senior officers. For them, Suniti was an "easy target" a "shamed woman who had eloped her husband's house..." She ran away from the attack site and went into hiding.
Suniti has tried every other option to restart her life, from trying to reconcile with her husband for the sake of her children to trying to stay in Sri Lanka in hiding. For her, the breakthrough came when her father arranged for her to come to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, Suniti is not locked up at home, she can take the MTR to her lawyer's office, and she can see daylight and walk on the streets, but she is still not free, not yet.
Suniti's torture claim has been rejected. The Duty Lawyer, assigned by the Hong Kong Government, presented a half page profile of her case while applying for torture claim neglecting years of torture and rape. She is now re-appealing the decision and has a lawyer* she trusts. Suniti's case profile now includes an extensive history of her life in Sri Lanka and the issues she faced. However, she is still in Limbo, a landmark decision by the High Court in Hong Kong forced the government's hand to fix the system. Since then, the UNHCR has been wrapping up its cases in Hong Kong, so that the Government can roll out its own system complying to international law, this has left many asylum seekers in a beaurucratic limbo. Suniti is hopeful but misses her children.. "I don't know what will happen if I go back maybe.." she pauses, then decides she doesn't have words to explain the pain "I cant even.." as tears well up in her eyes.