Thursday, 15 September 2011

Anis Hidayah wins Human Rights Watch Award for her work with Indonesian migrants

Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

Anis Hidayah, executive director of Jakarta-based Migrant Care, speaks out on behalf of the millions of Indonesian women and men who seek work abroad to feed their families and face serious risk of exploitation and abuse. As Migrant Care and Human Rights Watch have both documented, Indonesian women domestic workers in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait often work up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

Many are not paid; some are confined, beaten, or raped by their employers. Several factors place migrant domestic workers at high risk of abuse, including exclusion from labor laws, predatory recruitment practices, poor oversight of both recruiters and employers, and immigration policies that facilitate abuses.

Hidayah dedicated her life’s work to the protection of migrant workers’ rights when, as a graduate student, she learned about a migrant domestic worker who had been raped in Saudi Arabia and was unable to obtain redress. Hidayah helped build a broad network of migrants’ rights activists to raise the profile of the abuses suffered by this often hidden population. She organized countless protests, garnered extensive media coverage, and gained access to top policymakers in Indonesia’s parliament and ministries of manpower, migration, and foreign affairs. Migrant Care monitors thousands of abuse cases, presses the Indonesian government to provide better protections for migrant workers, and advocates for stronger regional and international standards.

Human Rights Watch honors Anis Hidayah for her dedication to exposing and ending egregious abuses against Indonesian migrant domestic workers.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Indonesian domestic workers not significantly increasing in Malaysia after ban

Dr Irene Fernandez Sep 7, 11 Malaysiakini

The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Indonesia and Malaysia on the May 30th was supposed to signal another wave of recruitment of domestic workers from Indonesia to Malaysia.

Three months later, recruitment agencies and the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) are crying out for the prime minister to intervene on the apparent continued moratorium by Indonesia, which Papa claims has left 35,000 families desperately waiting for domestic workers.

An official from the Indonesian Embassy, however, states that there isn't a moratorium in place - Indonesian women simply do not want to work as domestic workers in Malaysia.

Read the article here

Successful classes for migrant domestic workers in Singapore

Finding hope on Orchard Road


Becoming computer savvy with Excel with the help of volunteers

SINGAPORE – That Sunday, despite a downpour, I walked into Orchard Road with a bounce to my step. I had found Aidha, a non-government organization (NGO) that has enabled expats, volunteers and migrants to help fellow migrants reach for their dreams. I was filled with hope for a better life for OFWs in this tiny nation where an estimated 80,000 domestic workers slave away their life.

The plight of the Filipino domestic helper abroad has haunted me since I was 17. Heading home from my Junior year in Perth, Australia, I had an overnight stopover in Singapore. At the airport, a Filipina asked me, “Matagal ka na dito? Mabait ba yung employer mo (Have you been here long? Are your employers good to you)?” It was about that time when the Flor Contemplacion case was foremost in the minds of Filipinos and Singaporeans alike.

Read the article here

Domestic Workers a subject of GFMD discussion

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 By Alphea Saunders.

KINGSTON — The development of strategies to protect domestic workers' rights, and the creation of a gender-sensitive checklist, which will provide recognition, and labour and social protection for these workers, are high on the agenda of policy makers, representatives of expert organisations and civil society from across the world, who are now engaged in a two-day conference in Kingston.

Participants from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa and Europe are also seeking to hammer out guidelines for employment contracts for domestic workers.

The conference, titled ‘Migrant Domestic Workers at the interface of migration and development: Action to expand good practice’, opened today September 7, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, and is a lead up to the concluding debate of the 2011 Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), to be held later this year.

In her address, Global Migration Advisor for UN Women, Dr. Jean D'Cunha said the GFMD meeting is very significant, as it draws domestic workers and women migrant workers from the periphery, to the centre of development discourse, and action.

"The meeting focuses on action to support and protect the rights of domestic workers, in a spirit of partnership, between government, civil society and international organisations, based on complementarity and comparative advantage,” she said, noting that the meeting also focuses on the Caribbean experience, while drawing on a repertoire of global good practices.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte (2nd left), having a light exchange with Director of Policy and Research, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Jennifer Williams, at the global forum on: ‘Migrant Domestic Workers at the interface of migration and development: Action to expand good practice’, today (September 7), at the Jamaica Conference Centre. Others (from third left) are: Minister of Labour and Social Security, Barbados, Dr the Hon. Esther Byer-Suckoo; and Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland, and Swiss Chair Representative to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Rogher Kull.

Dr. D’cunha pointed out that this type of work is critically linked to economic and social development, with workers contributing by way of labour and financial remittances to their countries of origin.

However, she said that domestic work is poorly regulated, and exacerbates exploitation and abuse of workers, “because it’s not considered work, because it is privatised, isolated, performed by women, and it is considered a labour of love requiring no special skill."

"So, we really need to regulate the sector and protect and promote the rights of domestic workers. Governments need to do this, because it is a fulfillment of their national commitment to gender equality, to women’s empowerment, and to promoting the human rights and labour rights of workers,” she added.

Dr. D’cunha further stressed that the sector is poised for expansion, and that governments need to maximise the development potential of migration by regulating the sector.

“By protecting workers, hopefully we will be contributing to a reduction in undocumented work, undocumented movement, and a reduction in (human) trafficking. Employers (in the US) have stated that regulating the sector perhaps helps them to be better and more responsible employers, because decent work requires decent employers,” she argued.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are some 53-100 million domestic workers worldwide, with 83 per cent being females. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 37 per cent. The ILO also reports that domestic workers remain unprotected by labour laws in some 40 per cent of countries.

The conference is organised by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in collaboration with UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women), and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Read the article here.