Forced labour among migrant domestic workers is widespread, with many women exploited even before they have left their home country and later abused by their employers abroad.
More than 70 per cent of 4,100 women surveyed, citizens of the Philippines and Indonesia, said recruiters in their home country had confined them, confiscated their documents, or abused them verbally, physically or sexually, according to a report on modern slavery in the sector
Many received false information about their future work, wages and living and working conditions, and were told they had built up debts of between $US1,600 ($A2,220.22) and $US1,800 each in the process of getting a job.
‘We never expected the problem to be as widespread as it is,’ said Jacob Townsend, CEO of Farsight, an international social enterprise which carried out the survey and released it on Thursday.
The women surveyed were prospective, current or returned domestic workers, interviewed in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
There are between two million and five million migrant domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines at any given time, with many returning and re-migrating on a continuous basis, the researchers said.
They said their findings disproved the stereotype of women choosing to work overseas to save money and return home with a cushion of wealth, an idea held by many migrants and foreigners.
‘This is not temporary migration to save for one’s family – it is recurring participation in an overseas labour market to maintain a subsistence income,’ the report said.
In parts of the Philippines and Indonesia, wives and daughters are now expected to migrate for work, and feel they have no alternative, it said.
Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally, 11.7 million of them in the Asia Pacific region, according to the International Labour Organization.
See more: http://seefar.org/large-scale-modern-slavery-research/