Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | ePaper

Women Migrant Workers

Empowerment, Exploitation & Safety

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Rifat Zafreen :
Migrants are those who migrate for work purpose. They migrate in different ways depending on issues. Worldwide women migrate. If they come from a country which facilitates them with professional skills and training, the migrant women workers tend to have a stronger bargaining position. And in addition, if the women migrate legally, in a documented way to a country which has strong human rights structure, labour regulatory framework, it can be hoped that women migrant workers would be fine there.
Migrating in a documented way and working in a regulated part of the economy, rights of the women workers remain well protected while for any contractual work or temporary migrants, there is few labour rights in the working states especially in the Gulf States. But yet, women still face issues of discrimination even after getting migrated under quite formal advantages.
There are a lot of cross cutting issues that make life precarious for women labourers. The majority of women workers are not skilled in the conventional terms, in the sense that they are more involved in the care giving services. In case of maid service, there is seldom any chance of being seen it as work despite the International Labour Organization (ILO) has classified domestic work as work like any other work in the Convention No 189.
Worldwide there is a continuum of exploitation in case of women workers let alone the migrant women workers. This circumstance has reached such a state that it might be classified as modern day slavery. Slave like conditions do continue to exist even in our modern time. Refugee crisis also spawns this exploitation.
There is a lot to put to tackle this situation. Measures to prevent women trafficking are one of the prime ones. Though efforts in combating trafficking have achieved much success, there needs yet to form a 'rescue industry' in saving the migrant workers especially women migrant workers. In another way, it is not easy to solve this situation until we improve the global infrastructure that produces income gap, leads people to get involved in trafficking. Profound income inequality between the ‘sending state’ and ‘receiving state’ has to be tackled to stop repression over migrant workers especially women migrant workers.
We have to change the very idea that men are the ideal workers. It has been granted for years and decades that workplaces are public space and historically men have the right to dominate the public sphere whereas women would attend family that many call the private sphere.
Research has shown that workplace harassment and discrimination is highest in the sectors where women are just emerging as potential workforce. This causes power struggle in a sexualized form. Male entitlement supported by patriarchy and our fragile social norms prevent us from acting beyond our prejudices that make our women and so the women workers and migrant women workers vulnerable.
Though women activism is stronger in some parts of the world, still there is importance of carrying on campaigns, political struggle and having advocacy groups. It needs to keep on pressure to the goal of achieving safety and stopping exploitation. Role of social media to expose and support political campaigns is very important and necessary. There is also need to produce debate and organize solidarity to tackle this issue of exploitation, though it is hard as not all the groups speak in a single voice.
There should have such ideal situation in the society where law supports politics and not the other way around. Active protest, rise of voice against exploitation for making demands and for exposing wrong doings against women is a must. This can help ensure the idea that wrong doing is contrary to human rights and it is a form of discrimination legally and lawfully. Many things and efforts need to go hand in hand where state also has responsibility and so do the politicians. This can create, increase and mobilize public concern in the society against stopping exploitation against women and especially against migrant women workers.
Media also has a great roll in molding people's awareness. Media is said to be the 4th state, which has the power to change behavior and pulse of the people, can change any scenario overnight. With its strong power, thus media can focus on the discrimination and exploitation upon the migrant women workers worldwide. And thus can ensure the enactment of law to stop this from the country and so from the world. We can hope, with all our cooperation one day exploitation on women and especially on migrant women workers will be stopped and their safety will be ensured. Our world will be a happy world blooming with many happy faces of men and women and so with migrant women workers. We can strongly expect and dream of the day to come soon. n

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