Thursday, 24 November 2011

Nepalese migrant domestic workers suffer abuses

Nepal’s economy dependent on exploitation

A poor economy and lack of opportunities are forcing more and more Nepalese women to leave home and earn money abroad as domestic workers. Separated from their own children to take care of other women’s children in the Middle East or America, many of these women are mistreated and exploited. Aware of the risks, tens of thousands continue to leave every year.

Luna Ranjit, co-founder and executive director of Adhikaar at a conference organized by the Migration Initiative of the OSI Foundation. Photo credit: Louise de Hemptinne

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with only $1.20 GDP per capita. Only recently emerged from a decade-long civil war and historically dependent on an unpredictable agricultural sector, a new source of income has recently become prominent. Remittances – money sent back by Nepalese workers abroad – comes to some $1.5 billion, representing almost a quarter of Nepal’s GDP.

Since the 1990s, in light of increased globalization, more and more women are joining the ranks of Nepalese migrant workers. Of the approximately 83,000 Nepalese women that leave the country every year to work for foreign employers, fully 90 percent are victims of exploitation or sexual violence, says a study by the Foreign Nepali Workers Rescue Center (FNWRC).

“In the absence of fruitful opportunities at home, Nepalese women are leaving to earn money abroad, most often as domestic workers,” Luna Ranjit, co-Founder and Executive Director of Adhikaar, a New York-based non-profit working to empower their community, tells MediaGlobal. “Most know about the possibilities of being exploited and mistreated, but they are dreaming about better futures for themselves and their children; leaving the country appears thus as the only solution.”

Indonesian Domestic Workers to return to Malaysia

Concerns raised as govt to resume sending workers

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 11/19/2011

As the Indonesian government looks set to lift a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Malaysia, workers’ advocate group Migrant Care is wondering whether the two countries can guarantee protection for workers.

The government issued the ban on sending workers to the neighboring country in June 2009, following reports of mistreatment and abuse of Indonesian migrant workers by their Malaysian employers.

However, the government recently decided that it would lift the moratorium on Dec. 1, after it had signed an MoU with Malaysia earlier in the year. The agreement, the government said, was a response to Malaysia’s “improving” stance on the treatment of foreign workers.

The MoU consists of clauses that regulates workers’ rights, such as the right to retain their passports, have their wages transferred via an approved bank and a minimum wage of RM 700 — basic rights, of which they were previously deprived.

On Friday, the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) announced that around 80,000 Indonesian workers were ready to be flown to Malaysia after the lifting of the moratorium next month.

Prior to the ban, there were around 2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia, approximately half of whom worked illegally. Most of them were employed as domestic workers, while others worked in construction, on plantations and in factories.

Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care, an organization working for the protection of domestic workers, expressed skepticism at the announcement.

read the full article here

Centers shut and Cambodian domestic workers sent home

Cambodia closes maid centres

By P. ARUNA The Star Online


KUALA LUMPUR: All Cambodian training centres for domestic workers bound for Malaysia have been shut down and the maids sent home, leaving little hope of any maids coming here from the country. Malaysian employers and agencies, which have already paid for the maids, are now in a quandary.

The 36 centres in Cambodia had been ordered by the authorities there to be shut down until a mechanism was found to protect the maids, said the Malaysian National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap).

The maids, who had returned to their villages, include the 3,500 who had already been “booked” and paid for by prospective employers. On Oct 14, it was announced that Cambodia would no longer send its workers here. The decision came as a severe blow to local maid agencies.

Despite several meetings with Cambodian authorities to appeal for the 3,500 maids to be sent over, Pikap president Datuk Raza Zulkepley Dahalan said there was still no indication of whether the maids would be released. “During our recent visit to the country, we found there was a directive from the Cambodian Government for all the training centres to be shut down,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

It was reported that Malaysian employers and maid agencies had paid over RM20mil to their counterparts in Cambodia for maids and that the fees were now “stuck” in the country. “We urge employers not to pressure the maid agencies as we are stuck as well. “Please give us time to resolve this matter,” he said. He added that Pikap and the Association of Cambodian Recruit­ment Agencies would be setting up shelters for maids who were mistreated here.

He said this was to show the Cambodian Goverment that Malaysia was committed to protecting the welfare of their maids. “We plan to set up three shelters, starting with one here,” he said, adding that Pikap would also be setting up a mediation centre.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CNN trafficking report includes Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia

In Cambodia, anti-slavery reforms questioned. By David Ariosto, CNN

Domestic labor in Malaysia
Drawn by the prospect of a better life and the promise of more money, many young Cambodian maids working in Malaysia said they were recruited to go there by labor agencies, now only to find themselves unable to leave.

The women - often subject to poor treatment in prison-like facilities - forfeit their passports and are commonly left in a situation tantamount to indentured servitude, said Manfred Hornung, a legal adviser for the Cambodian Rights Group, Licadho.

On October 15, however, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a measure into law banning the practice of sending domestic workers to Malaysia, perhaps in response to mounting criticism.

The ban was enacted just days after a report by CNN's Dan Rivers examined a recruitment agency in the Cambodian capital.

The story "that aired on CNN has actually awakened the country up the whole country on this human trafficking issue again," said Cambodian parliament member Mu Sochua. "I have to say that his piece is just one little part of the whole problem, which is much worse."

She said the report prompted her to further petition the country's leadership to take action.

But only weeks later, Sochua told CNN that labor recruitment agencies in her country were still sending domestic workers to Malaysia, adding that many government officials either own or have close ties to the companies.

Read the full article here...

Sri Lanka to increase numbers of migrant domestic workers

Alive or Beheaded this Maid is a Heroine
By Aditya Alles Sri Lanka, Nov 14, 2011 (IPS)

Senior minister Sarath Amunugama believes that if Sri Lanka doubles the number of people working overseas to around three million, it could quickly decrease national poverty levels in this island nation with an economy recovering from decades of ethnic conflict.

"One of the shortest ways to grow and to get out of poverty is to encourage migration from 1.6 million now to three million," said Amunugama at the launch of the U.N. Population Fund's annual report on Oct. 31.

Economists estimate that domestic workers contribute at least 30 percent of the over four billion dollars repatriated annually to this country and provide a vital lifeline to the economy.

There is, however, a price to be paid. Many of the women are known to suffer severe abuse at the hands of their employers – two of them returned to the island from the Middle East last year with nails hammered into their bodies.

Read the full article here.

The Philipines Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) on Facebook

Dole taps Facebook to raise support for domestic workers

Friday, November 11, 2011

THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has turned to the largest social networking site Facebook to raise public awareness and support for the ratification of the International Labor Organization (ILo) Convention 189 and the Kasambahay bill passage.

Dole’s Labor and Communications Office has opened a site called I Support Kasambahay on Facebook to provide online ‘netizens’ a venue to find out what ILO Convention 189 and the Kasambahay bill are all about and to express their views and comments on these two landmark documents.

House Bill 553 or the proposed Magna Carta for Household Helpers sets standards for the employment of domestic workers following the ILO adoption of Convention 189 for the protection of household helpers.

“The I Support Kasambahay Facebook page aims to publicize the events and activities of the Dole under its Action Plan for the ratification of ILO Convention 189. It also seeks to raise the level of knowledge of the general public on the salient features of the convention and the benefits that will accrue to the country once it is ratified,” a Dole advisory explained.

There is a link to the Dole page on our facebook page here

See the full article here.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cambodian / Malaysian agreement in the future?

Cambodian MP wants bilateral agreement on domestic workers

Stephanie Sta Maria | November 9, 2011 Free Malaysia Today

Cambodian opposition MP, Mu Sochua, is determined to push for a bilateral agreement between Cambodia and Malaysia on the protection of Cambodian domestic workers here.

According to her, a mere memorandum of understanding, as suggested by Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam would be insufficient in addressing and resolving the issue of Cambodian domestic worker abuse in Malaysia.

Cambodia last month imposed a temporary ban on its citizens from working in Malaysian households following allegations of abuse.

Sochua, who was the driving force behind the ban, is adamant that better mechanisms be put in place when it is finally lifted to guarantee the protection of domestic workers and the prosecution of those who violate the law.

In a joint press conference with Tenaganita today, she explained that a bilateral agreement is crucial because it would have to include the Asean Migrant Workers Declaration, the International Labour Organisation( ILO) Convention on Domestic Workers and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Read the article>>>

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New report on Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia

Extend Labor Protections to Migrant Women and Girls at Home, Abroad
October 31, 2011
(Phnom Penh) – The Cambodian and Malaysian governments’ failure to regulate recruiters and employers leaves Cambodian migrant domestic workers exposed to a wide range of abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. Tens of thousands of Cambodian women and girls who migrate to Malaysia have little protection against forced confinement in training centers, heavy debt burdens, and exploitative working conditions.

The 105-page report, “‘They Deceived Us at Every Step’: Abuse of Cambodian Domestic Workers Migrating to Malaysia,”documents Cambodian domestic workers’ experiences during recruitment, work abroad, and upon their return home. It is based on 80 interviews with migrant domestic workers, their families, government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and recruitment agents. The report highlights the numerous obstacles that prevent mistreated women and girls from obtaining justice and redress in both Cambodia and Malaysia.

“Cambodia has been eager to promote labor migration but reluctant to provide even the most basic protections for migrant women and girls,” said Jyotsna Poudyal, women’s rights research fellow at Human Rights Watch. “The government should stop abdicating responsibility to unscrupulous recruitment agencies and clean up exploitation and abuse.”

Since 2008, forty to fifty thousand Cambodian women and girls have migrated to Malaysia as domestic workers. Some recruitment agents in Cambodia forge fraudulent identity documents to recruit children, offer cash and food incentives that leave migrants and their families heavily indebted, mislead them about their job responsibilities in Malaysia, and charge excessive recruitment fees.

Read More here

Deployment ban for Filipino workers will not stop abuse

Migrant workers’ group slams ban

Published : Friday, November 04, 2011 00:00 Journal Online

THE Migrante International yesterday denounced the deployment ban for 41 countries, saying it is just a band-aid solution to the problem of abuses experienced by some overseas Filipino workers abroad.

Migrante Middle East regional coordinator John Monterona said the ban would never stop the abuse against Filipino migrant workers.

“It is quite an irony that the Philippines had issued a deployment ban for 41 countries, in addition to the 76 already in its list, while the countries being certified as ‘safety compliant’ as per Republic Act 10022 is concerned, are actually have high records of human and labor rights abuses,” he said.

Monterona pointed out that issuing a ban does not guarantee that OFWs are 100 per cent safe against abuses and maltreatment.

“The problem really is forced migration. Since joblessness is rampant in the country and the job opportunities are scarce, not to mention the grinding poverty in the Philippines, these workers are forced to accept job orders in countries included in the ban,” the militant leader said.

“The ban does not address the problem; the ban only increases the number of victims of human trafficking and those who are entering the countries, included in the ban, with fake documents. Or, those who have already been working in those countries, opt to stay although their documents have already expired,” he explained.

Read more here