|End Violence Against Women|
CARAM Asia Press Statement
KUALA LUMPUR 25 Nov, 2007: CARAM Asia urges all State parties proactively end the persistent violence against women across the globe and introduce protection mechanisms for women from continued violence in compliance with the international human rights standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights Conventions. Violence against women continues to persist at all levels of society. It is a universal and perennial problem that continues to manifest as a societal ill due to the inequality of power between sexes, classes, and nationalities.
In less than three decades, owing to rapid economic-political globalisation, Asia has seen an increase in the number of women migrating in quest for employment and livelihood. Women migrants make up fifty percent of the international migrants population. With increasing numbers of women leaving their countries, especially from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, Asia has become one of the world’s largest sources for female domestic workers (UNFPA – factsheet, 2006). The contemporary form of migration forces women to leave their home country alone. They take up domestic work to support their families and communities, and they unknowingly enter into a work environment infused with violence and discrimination.
There are various forms of violence against women ranging from state violence to customary and domestic violence. Women foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are disproportionately vulnerable to all forms of violence due to their gender, class, and race at all stages of migration. Today, violence against FDWs manifests in their lives in various ways - physical abuses, sexual violence, forced labour, trafficking, and physiological abuses.
Foreign domestic workers are not only prone to violence from individual employers, but they are also subjected to State sanctioned structural violence against their right to mobility, assembly, reproductive rights and health. State sanctioned employer sponsorship system leads FDWs into solitary confinement at their workplace, rendering them completely vulnerable to all forms of abuses from employers. Mandatory health screening procedures by receiving countries (including regular pregnancy tests) as a means to control immigration inflow is a violation against women’s reproductive rights and health. Lack of State enforcement against unscrupulous recruitment agencies exploiting FDWs, and against those are often playing the role of traffickers, exemplifies a growing problem of violence against women that is not being systematically addressed. The cases of violence against FDWs reported have underscored horrifying abuses. The alarming nature of these cases is, in most instances, perpetrators are not criminalised. Further, cases of violence against FDWs are underreported.
Many State parties involved in the labour migration process are signatories to the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol. Therefore, as declared in the Article- 2, 5, 11, 12, and 16, the State has a responsibility to protect women against violence of any kind occurring within the family, at the work place or in any other area of social life. Commitments have been made by States to adopt measures (laws and policies) to ensure equal participation of women in society and ensure that women are free from fear and violence. However, as evidenced by the growing incidences of violence against women, it is obvious that the States are not meeting their obligations.
Coinciding with the International Day for the elimination of violence against women, CARAM Asia calls on the following to both sending and receiving countries:
· Extend equal protection of the labour laws to domestic workers, including the rights to a just wage, overtime pay, weekly rest days, benefits, and workers’ compensation.
· Prevent the entrance of women into the worst forms of domestic labour by strictly enforcing the anti-violence against women laws in both sending and receiving countries and adopt measures to eradicate all forms of violence against women.
· Put in place free hotline services to receive reports of violence against women domestic workers. Broadly disseminate the hotline number through all types of communication channels. These should be created in consultation with women’s and migrants’ NGOs, relevant government ministries or agencies, and the police.
· Prosecute perpetrators of physical violence, sexual violence, and those who unlawfully confine foreign domestic workers.
· Prosecute unscrupulous recruitment agencies and traffickers who exploit and abuse women domestic workers.
· Provide gender sensitive health services to all FDWs and rehabilitation of FDWs who have suffered physical, psychological or sexual abuse and work to ensure the justice of the abused women is brought upon.
· Remove mandatory health testing policies and the accompanied deportation process.
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