Statement of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants on the International Women’s Day

08 March 2008

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) stands with the oppressed women of the world in the commemoration of the International Women’s Day and in the continuing struggle of women for comprehensive rights in the society.

Among the disadvantaged women in the world are women migrant workers and immigrants.

Policies abound that put women migrant workers in a very vulnerable position of abuse and exploitation. Not only are their rights as workers violated but rules and practices also exist that discriminate them and on their rights as women.

Women in low-paying jobs and those considered “unskilled” such as the domestic workers and others in the service sector are subjected to policies that are exploited by employers, recruiters, the host governments, and the sending governments for maximum profit. Such is the case, for example, of the New Conditions of Stay or NCS in Hong Kong that grassroots women migrants and advocates are now challenging up to the CEDAW Committee level.

Meanwhile, those who work in the industrial sector are not spared from attacks on labor rights. They are made to work in factories under extremely difficult and dangerous condition, their salaries are kept to the minimum, they face illegal salary deduction, they are not given their rights as women and they are also not usually allowed to unionize.

Also among the women whose rights are attacked or are not sufficiently protected are the immigrant wives.

Immigrant wives, sometimes called immigrant brides or foreign brides, are women who, for various reasons that are oftentimes economic, are married to men commonly from more developed countries.

The issues of immigrant brides have not yet met adequate attention from governments both of the countries of origin and the countries of destination. There are very little, by way of policies, protection available and even less concrete programs that shall promote the wellbeing of immigrant brides.

Instead, policies are instituted to even constrict further the rights of immigrant wives especially the institution of more restrictive border control laws such as the stiff financial requirement the government of Taiwan has tried to implement and the strict nationality law in Japan that has caused the forced separation of immigrant brides from their children.

Women migrants and immigrants also suffer from widespread discrimination. While migrants in general are discriminated, women migrants also experience discrimination based on gender. Immigrant brides, for example, find it hard to integrate with the local society because of prevalent discriminatory attitude, public policies that limit the participation of immigrant wives, and lack of programs for the local adaptation and integration of immigrant brides.

Violence against women also persists and is faced by migrant and immigrant women. Women domestic workers are oftentimes victimized in the workplace and even outside by sexual harassment and rape, and physical and mental abuses. Meanwhile for foreign brides, the prospect of not getting a permanent residency status in the husband’s country deters them from reporting any type of abuse they experience.

Amidst all of these, women migrants and immigrants actively work to protect their rights, promote their wellbeing and advance their liberation in all spheres. We commend the women who have done so and those who continuously hold high the banner of the women’s movement.

But as with the rights of women in general and women migrant workers in particular, there are still many steps to be done to achieve women’s aims for liberation, equality and rights. More efforts must be conducted on education of women, formation and strengthening of women’s organizations, and the empowerment of women to conduct effective actions.

Unity of migrant workers, immigrants, refugees and other displaced peoples around the world must also be strengthened. This is at the core of the aims of the International Migrants’ Alliance. We believe that women shall play an important role in its upcoming founding assembly in June 15-16 in Hong Kong and, more importantly, in the pursuit of the IMA’s goals.

The APMM shall continue to stand with the struggle of oppressed women. We shall continue to uphold the struggle of migrant workers and immigrants. We shall pursue our cause for the oppressed people.

==============================
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail:  apmm@hknet.com

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