Ex-domestic helper turned Wan Chai sex worker gets HIV

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Wan Chai at night

She used to have many friends, but now, they’ve all gone away.

Mawar (not her real name), an Indonesian who used to be a domestic helper here in Hong Kong, can only cry alone on her bed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan. Friends she had considered as sisters all disappeared when they learned that Mawar already had AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome).

“It’s all gone. No one came again,” Mawar said during an interview on January 28 amid tears.

She came to HK in 2010 to work as a domestic worker but overstayed since 2015 after her employer terminated her contract. Together with her friends, who were also former domestic workers, she decided to become a sex worker in Wan Chai.

To save their living costs, they rented a flat and lived like siblings while earning in the flesh trade to send money to their families back home.

Mawar’s Facebook account was filled with glamorous pictures of Hong Kong’s nightlife. She also tried her best to look beautiful to attract more customers.

Together with her friend, Mawar also learned how to apply as a torture claimant and sought asylum so that she could continue to stay here in HK.

All of these changed on December 26, 2018. That day, Mawar suddenly collapsed inside the flat that she shared with her friends.

She was brought to the Ruttonjee Hospital, where the doctor said she had pneumonia. At first, Mawar thought there was nothing to worry  since it is winter and she and her friends had to work in the bars of Wan Chai until dawn.

But after two weeks, the pneumonia did not go away. Mawar said she began to fear that something was terribly wrong.

She also learned that her German boyfriend died recently due to complications from AIDS.

“Am I (infected) too?” Mawar asked.

She got confirmation only this mid-January when the doctor told her she was positive for AIDS. Mawar, who originally lived sparkling with sexy clothes and high heels, is now thin, frail, and looks like she had been sick for a long time.

Every day, she has to swallow nine pills, not to mention holding back tremendous pain when the doctor took a sample of fluid from her spine. Several times, she had to be brought to the isolation room because her body’s resistance to diseases had gone down to dangerous levels.

But Mawar said the thing that caused her the most pain was when her friends abandoned her to the ravages of AIDS.

They suddenly disappeared, not even daring to visit her. Mawar is now like a stranger in the eyes of those she treated as her sisters.

Several times, she becomes hysterical when she’s alone, Mawar said. She had tried to pull out the IV needle in her hand. Her condition worsened and so the doctor had her transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now, it’s just a matter of time. Her family had been informed and will soon come to see to say goodbye.

“Pray that I am sane, ma’am. Pray,” she said in between sobs.

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