Across the world, vulnerable people—particularly women—are exploited when they go abroad as domestic workers. With no laws to protect them, housemaids suffer abuse, withheld wages and more. Caritas Internationalis has participated in an international advocacy campaign for the adoption of an ILO Convention regulating domestic work. The Convention (No. 189) with an attached recommendation (No. 201) was adopted on 16 June 2011 during the International Labour Conference in Geneva. It was a major breakthrough and the recognition of domestic work as real work. Caritas has joined with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to promote the ratification and implementation of Convention No. 189. The ITUC has launched the “12 by 12” worldwide campaign to have 12 countries, as a start, ratify Convention No. 189 by the end of 2012.
The 12 December 2012 is a worldwide day of action in support of decent working conditions for domestic workers, both adults and minors. Caritas has joined up with the International Trade Union Federation in asking 12 governments to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) ‘Convention 189’ by this date. Five countries, Uruguay, Philippines, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Bolivia, have so far ratified the convention. Ratification means that domestic workers have real access to redress mechanisms, when their contracts or their rights in general are not respected. It’s also a deterrent for employment agencies and employers who do not play by the rules. On 12.12.2012 we want added pressure on those government who have not ratified to do so and ensure millions domestic workers worldwide can now look forward to being treated with the respect they deserve. Caritas members in Latin America for example are urging all people who employ a domestic worker or who [...]
Caritas urges governments to fight the exploitation of migrants by offering decent work, social protection and greater opportunities for human development. In a statement for the Global Forum on Migration and Development, Caritas warns that the economic crisis which has led to cuts in public spending, unemployment and the tightening of borders to restrict migrant entry have had a major impact on migrants and their ability to contribute to local development. “Migrants the world over, but most of all women, are vulnerable to abuse,” says Martina Liebsch director of policy at Caritas Internationalis. “Migrants have the same rights as everyone to life, liberty, security, education, medical care and decent work. We urge governments to make protecting migrants a priority.” More specifically, Caritas asks the Global Forum to consider the following issues: Protection and promotion of the contribution of migrant women to human development. Women are often the primary breadwinner in their families and increasingly [...]
“I never dreamed we would have our own home again,” says Vadivaperumal Letchumi, putting the finishing touches to her new house, built with support of Caritas Sri Lanka. The 42-year-old widow lives in the north east of the country with her two children. It’s a region emerging from a three decade long civil war that ended in 2009. Her previous home was destroyed in that conflict and her family had to flee the fighting. Three years later, she is back and is looking forward to a more secure life with her son and daughter. The family is poor and some days can be tough, but she believes things are improving.“We’re at last living without fear,” said Vadivaperumal. “My daughter can finally go outside to play without me worrying.” As she and her daughter prepare the evening meal, her 18-year-old son returns home from his work as a fisherman. Her husband did not [...]
By Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis Policy and Advocacy Director You could hear a pin drop when during the above mentioned conference the audience was confronted with the magnitude of the phenomenon of trafficking in Latin America. The evidence was presented as a film done by youngsters who travelling throughout the continent collected evidence in bars, on the streets, interviewing victims of trafficking, often minors, and bar owners and pimps. A shocking evidence of a continent which is seen as a continent of joy and sharing. This was evident as well in the testimonies of those who are working with persons which are being exploited. But the conference as such was a great sign of hope! It is amazing what a group of engaged, lay volunteers can set up with reaching out to their contacts and networks! The participants and experts intervening, a mix of representatives from academia, religious congregations, engaged lay [...]
The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has announced that a second country, the Philippines, has just ratified Convention 189/2011 for Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Uruguay was the first country to ratify this Convention last June. This is the second breakthrough after adoption by ILO members in June 2010. Caritas says it is now very important to keep international attention up on these set of rules, so that more countries who are ILO member States also ratify it. Ratification means also that domestic workers have real access to redress mechanisms, when their contracts or their rights in general are not respected. It’s also a deterrent for employment agencies and employers who do not play by the rules. In 2009, Caritas Internationalis started a campaign for migrant domestic workers’ rights. Many Caritas members provide services to domestic workers and had expressed their concern about the abuses such workers had to suffer. The campaign contributed [...]
Nepal’s August 2012 ban preventing women under 30 from working in Gulf countries is well-meaning but misguided, according to Caritas migration experts. The ban is intended to protect young women from suffering abuse while they work as maids in private homes. For years, Caritas has worked with survivors of such abuse. “We appreciate the government of Nepal’s concern for migrant domestic workers,” says Rupa Rai of Caritas Nepal. “But the problems women face in Gulf countries will not decrease because of this age bar.” Each year, hundreds of thousands of women leave Asian countries like Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to work in Gulf countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Some are treated well, but others work long hours without being paid, often suffering beatings and sexual abuse. Instead of banning migration outright, countries should develop “better strategies to provide both safety and decent work for women,” says Rai. [...]
On World Refugee Day (20 June), Caritas says there needs to be better protection of the human rights of refugee women, especially in relief camps and in border areas. In Africa, women refugees live for extended periods in overcrowded sites where life is harsh. They lack access to basic items such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Women can easily become victims of all forms of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation. In industrialised countries, women asylum seekers face unduly prolonged detention and forced return, as well as restricted access to social or medical systems, combined with limited access to the regular employment market. The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR says the world will see increasing numbers of refugees during the next 10 years as the factors causing mass population flight grow. They include climate change, population growth, urbanisation, food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition. Finding durable solutions to refugee situations is a [...]
“Migrants...represent 2.9 per cent of world population, some 185-192 million people, nearly half of whom are female. The most common employment opportunities for women...are areas where just treatment must be assured for migrant women out of respect for their femininity in recognition of their equal rights. “Trafficking in human beings has a particularly negative impact on women. In some cases there are women and girls who are exploited almost like slaves in their work, and not infrequently in the sex industry. The culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality is as pervasive as it is unhealthy for society and must be addressed by more than fine words” Archbishop Celestino Migliore – Permanent Observer of the Hole See to the UN in his address at the 50th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2 March 2006. Issues related to Migration and Development has always been on the agenda [...]
When women migrate alone to other countries for work, “they face the psychological burden of being responsible for their families, while not being at home to care for them. They face the moral and economic burden of sending money back to them. They face exploitation and abuse by people they travel with or by their employers. They face the discrimination of being a migrant,” said Martina Liebsch of Caritas Internationalis at a discussion today.