Group calls for the elimination of violence against women, children

AS the world prepares to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children on November 25, Pinay OFWs all over the world highlight how forced migration has become the worst cause and manifestaton of all forms of abuse, oppression and exploitaton of Filipino women and children.

The  “feminization” of labor migration was most marked in the decade and a half since 1990, driven by the rise in number of domestic workers and caregivers going abroad due to the intensification of the labor export policy by past and present Philippine governments. By 1995, according to the National Statistics Office’s Survey of Overseas Filipinos (NSO SOF), there were 91 female OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) for every 100 male OFWs.

This figure steadily increased to a peak of 102 female OFWs per 100 male in 2006. To date, Filipina OFWs still make up more than half (around 60%) of the stock estimate of OFWs, outnumbering male OFWs especially in the service sector, with 135, 168 female new hires to 19,367 to male new hires in 2010.

Far beyond the absolute numbers, however, are the very specific vulnerabilities that Filipina OFWs migrant workers face because they are women – sexual discrimination and other gender-specific abuses, exploitation and violence – and also in the sorts of work where they tend to predominate. This is especially the case when Filipina OFWs migrate for work that is in line with their traditionally-defined reproductive roles in society (i.e., domestic workers, nurses, caregivers, etc).

The current onslaught of the global economic and financial crisis further intensifies abuses and violations faced by Filipina OFWs. The global crisis makes them more vulnerable to illegal recruitment, human/sex trafficking, criminalization (of the irregular/undocumented), and tolerate abuses at work. The worsening crisis conceives for them more desperate conditions, locally and abroad.

The US-backed wars of aggression in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region and more recently in Gaza are forcing millions of migrants, especially women, to choose between a rock and a hard place – to either flee the conflicts or face unemployment and poverty in the Philippines, or to stay at risk of their well-being and lives in exchange for income. In these conditions, Filipina OFWs become victims not only of violence and war but also of labor and human rights abuses.

For this year’s commemoration,we call for justice for all OFW victims of rape, sexual harassment, trafficking and other forms of VAW. We also join all freedom-loving women and peoples’ in calling for a stop to US-backed wars of aggression and attacks. We stand in solidarity with other women migrants in the women’s struggle for freedom, democracy and national sovereignty and against imperialist plunder and military intervention.

On November 25, we call for justice for all Filipina OFWs victimized not only by perpetrators but also by government neglect and the circumstances that forced them to vulnerability and injustice.

International Migrants’ Tribunal

Violence against women migrant workers and children will be one of the highlights in the witness testimonies for the upcoming International Migrants’ Tribunal.

The International Migrants’ Tribunal will be held on November 28-29 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It is organized by the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) and the International Women’s Alliance (IWA).

The Tribunal will put on trial the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) as it is being facilitated by sending and receiving countries, including the Philippines. It is expected to be attended by judges and witnesses from different parts of the world.

One of the judges will be renowned theatre actress and women’s rights advocate Monique Wilson.
The head judge will be Niikura Osamu, president of the Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA), a member organization of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

Migrante International and other migrants’ groups and advocate organizations will be witnesses to talk about the intensification of labor export in migrant-sending and receiving countries and its adverse effects on migrant workers.

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