Thursday, January 21, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, 10 Dec 2009: Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM) Asia is proud to announce that it is now launching two videos to enhance our ongoing online advertisement campaign for employers to sign petitions to give a weekly paid day off for migrant domestic workers.
The two videos will be blasted out in cyberspace through personal emails to individuals with links to the online petition created one month ago since the online advertisement campaign was launched in five different media outlets in Asia. These include Al Jazeera, Malaysiakini, The Standard, Prachatai and Online Citizen. These videos can be accessed at;
A simple click is all that is needed to grant a basic fundamental right to one of the most vulnerable groups of human beings today http://www.petitiononline.com/adayoff/petition.html
CARAM Asia, a regional network of 34 NGOs and trade unions across 17 countries in Asia, has long called upon on all employers throughout the region, as important non-state actors, to recognise that the time has come to accord foreign domestic workers (FDWs) a weekly paid day off from work.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that there are more than a million women who engage in domestic work worldwide. There are over 300,000 MDWs in Malaysia, about 70,000 in Bahrain, and more than 200,000 respectively in Singapore, Thailand and Lebanon.
The statistics can cause alarm, as FDWs continue to lack adequate protection mechanisms, basic freedoms, long hours, minimal access to health or even in some cases a recognition of the work itself. In the past 5 months, three Indonesian migrant workers were tortured to death by their Malaysian employers. In Lebanon, at least 10 women have died, either by hanging themselves or by falling from tall buildings over the past two months, in desperation to escape. Rape and physical abuse of these migrants continues to be well documented by a number of different human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, yet many states have failed to take appropriate action to protect these workers.
A weekly paid day off for FDWs will not only prevent suicides, and gender based violence and torture, most importantly it will grant an opportunity for tortured MDWs to escape and report the abuse and/or exploitation by the employer.
Such a move by nation states will be in line with international law applicable to human and employment rights standards. 186 countries have adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and as such have a responsibility to fulfill its responsibility to these terms. As such they would be duty bound to enforce General Comment 26 of the CEDAW Convention which acknowledges that domestic work should be protected by labour laws and entitled to holiday and vocation leave regulations. In Malaysia and many other countries throughout Asia and the Middle East, this still doesn’t remain the case.
Next year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will start working on the process of adopting a new minimum labour standard for domestic workers that could possibly lead to a new specific Domestic Workers Convention. With the international community moving towards acknowledging the labour rights of domestic workers, we urge governments of host countries, to develop minimum standards of human rights for these workers, and strongly urge employers across the Asian continuum to move away from the slavery practice of binding workers to work without a day off.