Review on Interpretation Services for Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 《有關香港少數族裔翻譯服務的研究》

In Hong Kong, there are 320,988 migrant workers (MW) and 451,183 people of ethnic minority origin (EM). Many researchers have pointed out the prevalence and seriousness of the problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault towards MWs, which often remains unreported by the victims to the police. Although little work has been done to understand the sexual violence experiences of EM women in Hong Kong, the trauma and negative impact on mental health that sexual violence can cause is well-documented.  

In view of the seriousness of the problem, and the lack of specialized rape crisis services in Hong Kong (particularly one that is catered toward working with MWs and EW women), RainLily started a project entitled “WE Stand Programme for Female Migrant Workers and Ethnic Minority Women” to support survivors of sexual violence from 1 February 2012.

This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the WE Stand programme services, so as to understand its strengths, and through the feedback from service users and frontline workers, to arrive at recommendations for service improvement. This study focuses on two components of the programme, namely, “24 hour one-stop crisis intervention and counselling” and “educational workshops”. The voices of service users and RainLily’s social workers were included in the study.

The findings of the study show that survivors are likely to face a range of problems after being sexually assaulted, such as emotional problems, financial problems, relationship problems, decision making in pregnancy, and problems encountered in the police reporting procedure. The WE Stand programme provides survivors with accompaniment services, legal support, tangible support, interpretation, and referral to other support services such as emergency shelters and psychiatric treatment. The services received positive feedback from the respondents. Respondents showed positive changes after the intervention.

From the perspective of RainLily’s social workers, emotional support/counselling, accompaniment and tangible support were the common needs of sexual assault survivors. They generally agreed that their intervention was meaningful in that it brought about positive changes in service users, and was welcomed by the police. However, the social workers encountered some difficulties in working with MW and EM survivors, including cultural and religious differences, issues with interpretation service, inconsistencies and lengthy procedures in police reporting

The WE Stand programme’s educational workshops aim to increase participants’ knowledge about sexual violence, clarify rape myths, and increase participants’ sense self-efficacy and confidence in taking action to protect themselves. The respondents of this study reported that the workshops met their expectations. In three focus group interviews, MWs, EM women and girls gave positive feedback about the programme. After attending the workshops, their level of awareness and knowledge of the sexual violence had increased, and they had gained more gender awareness and self-confidence. However, they suggested having more sessions in which to practice and consolidate what they have learnt in the workshops.

From the perspective of the RainLily workers, EMs and MWs possessed very little prior knowledge about sexual violence and victims’ rights. The need for gender sensitivity and cultural sensitivity while providing intervention was also emphasised. The RainLily workers also expressed that they encountered some difficulties in working with this target group, for example, the lack of formal protocol or guidelines for intervention, inadequate support from migrant worker employment agencies, long working hours of MWs, and family responsibilities of EM women.

The following recommendations are made to the WE Stand Programme for the future development of services: 1) To develop a peer counsellor programme, 2) To provide training to interpreters and other professionals, 3) To suggest improvements in police handling procedures, 4) To provide in-service training for RainLily workers, 5) To promote sex education in schools and in the public, 6) To advocate for policy change and 7) To strengthen service coordination.