Posts Tagged ‘overseas contract workers’

From Mondoweiss via curate:

protesters against palestian occupation

photo from mondoweiss.net

Noah Mae (second from left) and her friends are not Jewish either, though they were born in Israel and have lived there all their lives:

immigrant children of migrant workers in Israel playing

photo from BBC News

Noah Mae speaks and dreams in Hebrew. She is one of the more than 1,000 children of migrant workers who are scheduled for deportation this year.



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An observation from an acquaintance. Many Filipino businessmen, he said, find that they already had an “in” with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. That young businessmen from the Middle East felt an affinity   with Filipinos. Magaan ang loob.

The reason? These businesspeople from the Middle East grew up with Filipina nannies. Because of their carework, said this acquaintance, Filipina women are in such positions of  influence over the next generation of businesspeople from the Middle East. Pinoy entrepreneurs, he said, could use trade on this predisposed goodwill as capital.

The gender dynamics of Filipino labor migration shifted around the 1980s. More women were recruited for domestic work, a trend that continues today. An estimated 70 percent of the 3,000 Filipinos who leave the country each day due to labor migration are women.

I had already known Filipina mothers work as nannies and caregivers, even as they leave their own children behind.  That these women’s labor feed the remittances that keep the Philippine economy afloat. And that all these benefits to the country, to the private sector, have come at great personal cost to women who spent years away from their own children.

But it still makes me sad and angry to note that decades later, long after their children had grown up without their presence, these women’s labor and sacrifice continues to generate wealth. But not for them.

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We have an image of human traffickers and slavers as a sleazy bunch operating in “uncivilized” regions of the world. But traffickers can also look like former ambassadors who live in swanky townhomes in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

This report details the story of Lauro Liboon Baja Jr., who along with his wife and daughter, are charged with trafficking, forced labor, peonage and racketeering. In exchange for a $4,000 fee, the Bajas promised Marichu Suarez Baoanan a position as a “personal employee,” travel and visa assistance, and help with finding Baoanan a nursing job in the US.

Instead, Baoanan was forced to work sixteen-hour days as a domestic servant in the five-story Upper East Side townhouse that served as the consular residence and office for the Philippine Mission to the UN. She worked seven days a week, was made to sleep in the cold basement with only a blanket for warmth, and was subject to verbal abuse whenever she asked about the promised nursing job.

Sadly, Baoanan’s case is not uncommon.

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It’s been almost two months since the murder of Honiefaith Ratilla Kamiosawa, a Filipina waitress working in Japan. Much of the sensationalist news coverage focused on the details of her murder, mutilation, and dismemberment. Her death was painted as an isolated incident, a cautionary tale for Filipina overseas contract workers.

I argue that her death is a feminicide, and just one in the Arroyo government’s long track record of tolerating and sanctioning violence against women.

Feminicide provides a framework for analyzing the murders of women as systemic problems, rooted in the state’s indifference to gender-based violence. The advocacy group Migrante employs the language of feminicide when it assails the Arroyo government for contributing to the young Filipina’s death, through “mismanaging our economy and failure in governance, for massive corruption, and for the criminal neglect of migrant Filipinos around the world.

Framing the murders of Honiefaith in Japan and Fatima Maulana in Saudi Arabia as feminicides highlights their connections to the murder of Lourdes Rubrico and other activists in the Philippine countryside. Feminicide is rooted in gender, a recognition that women like Honiefaith are murdered because they are women who could be killed. By understanding their deaths as feminicides, these murders emerge not as isolated cases, but as systemic failures of the state.

Thus, feminicide highlights the complicity of state authorities, the political and economic elites, in committing violence against women.

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