March 22, 2012
By Laura Sheahen Thirty-year-old Madhu Tharu has been working for other people since she was a little girl. A bonded labourer in a village of bonded labourers, the Nepali woman basically belonged to her landlord. The system of serfdom that trapped her wasn’t abolished in Nepal until the early 2000s. So for years, she worked all day. Her brothers, at least, were allowed to go to school. As a kamalari--a servant girl-- she wasn’t. As teenagers, Madhu and thousands of girls like her were prime targets of traffickers, criminals who sell girls into forced prostitution or forced labour. As adults, women like Madhu are prime candidates for overseas work as housemaids. Uneducated and impoverished, they sometimes face physical and sexual abuse when working for Middle Eastern families in places like Kuwait. Though some women do indeed earn money when they go abroad, the risks of migration are serious. Even in the best [...]
It is 7:30pm, in Amatlan, in the province of Cordoba Veracruz. The train whistle blows in the distance. In Norma Romero Vazquez' kitchen, headquarters of the "Patronas ", women bustle about.. Carmen, 90, the oldest of the women in the family, takes a crate filled with bags of food. Along with her daughters and granddaughters, Carmen goes to the railway that passes about ten meters away from her house. Over a distance of a kilometer, the fifteen women share the crates out between themselves. When the light of the train appears, they get as close as possible to the tracks and stretch out their arms laden with food bags. "God bless you", cry the migrants aboard the goods train. In a few minutes, the train has gone. Back to Norma's kitchen. For over 15 years, Carmen, Norma and the others have been handing out food, clothing and medicines to the migrants on [...]
More women than ever before are migrating alone in search of a better life, but Caritas Internationalis says systems aren’t in place to prevent them from being exploited or abused. In a report published today, Caritas says governments and social services dealing with migration need to address migrant women’s needs. In its report The female face of migration: advocacy and best practices for women who migrate and the families they leave behind, Caritas documents the challenges faced by some of over 104 million women who are seeking opportunities outside their homelands and travelling independently from their families. Some find better jobs, education opportunities and greater freedoms. But too frequently on their journey and upon arrival they are cheated, abused, raped or discriminated against. “We urgently need to change the way we think about women’s migration,” says Caritas Internationalis Advocacy and Policy Director Martina Liebsch, “because the current system is failing to protect [...]
When impoverished women decide to leave their countries to work abroad, they often are deceived or abused. Smugglers and human traffickers may exploit them, forcing them to work as unpaid prostitutes or beggars. Women who become domestic workers are sometimes beaten, overworked, or not paid. Many women leave behind their own families to care for others, making their children vulnerable. The Female Face of Migration, a report by Caritas Internationalis, describes the problems that migrant women face. Explore this page to learn more: read the policy paper, get to know to stories of four women, and play our interactive game “Follow the Migrant Woman” to see what choices you would make if you were a poor woman going abroad.
February 27, 2012
"Karibu, welcome," said Adèle. She and a dozen other women are hard at work in a field beside the Goma to Rutshuru Road in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Adèle is an agronomist and also heads three associations supported by a Caritas project to rehabilitate women war victims. "We've planted peanut seeds and we're in the process of taking out the weeds so they don't overrun the place," she said. "When Caritas launched the project, 60 women were involved. We were given peanut, bean and pea seeds. After the first harvests we bought some maize seeds. Look at what they’ve turned into. We have two hectares of fine maize that we'll soon be able to harvest." Marie-José is one of the women who have benefited. “When I joined the association, I wasn't in very good shape,” she said. “My husband had been killed and all our property had been [...]
To mark the launch of a new Caritas report on the female face of migration, communications officer Laura Sheahen and photographer Katie Orlinsky travelled to Nepal to document the trafficking of young girls and women. Follow their journey. By Laura Sheahen “We girls were hidden under floorboards during police raids. There were ten girls there — it was so cramped you couldn’t breathe.” Rekha* was fourteen when she left her homeland of Nepal for India, saying yes when a friend’s mother offered her domestic work abroad. But when Rekha reached India, there was no maid job. Instead, she found herself in a dark room with many other girls. “I cried a lot. I didn’t even know how to speak Hindi,” she remembers. “I met another Nepalese girl, and she said, ‘They’ve sold you.’” Over the course of 18 months, Rekha was sold into three different brothels. In the last one, she convinced [...]