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Women migrant workers more vulnerable to sexual harassment - APEC

InterAksyon - 17 September 2015 - Women migrant workers face a higher risk of sexual harassment and violence due to limited workspace, language barriers, and lack of job security, among others, experts at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Women and the Economy Fora 2015 have said.

Women migrant workers face a higher risk of sexual harassment and violence due to limited workspace, language barriers, and lack of job security, among others, experts at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Women and the Economy Fora 2015 have said.

Recognizing the vulnerability of women migrant workers and that healthy women mean healthy economies, the APEC on Wednesday launched a toolkit proposing policies that promote women’s health.

The toolkit, which includes policies that help develop, implement, and monitor support mechanisms to address sexual harassment in the workplace, is addressed to regional and local governments, as well as the private sector and non-profit organizations.

At the fora, representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO) explained that women migrant workers are more vulnerable on many fronts: gender, racial, ethnic, occupational, and nationality, and that they may also find themselves victims of exploitation, hazardous work conditions, and psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.

Many women migrant workers are vulnerable to harassment because they are unaware what their rights are and how to exercise these rights, it was noted.

A way to address this is to conduct pre-departure and post-arrival seminars to include sharing of information on rights, employment contracts, helpline contacts, and travel tips.

These seminars must be conducted in the local language of the migrant women workers. Support services for those who have suffered sexual harassment and gender-based violence must be accessible and promoted widely.

The vulnerability is also because they don’t speak the language in the country where they work.

At-risk countries

This is the case in South Asia and Southeast Asia, where a significant proportion of women in agricultural plantations suffer sexual harassment and are unable to stop it due to difference in language.

The Philippines, a big source of women migrant workers, also faces this dilemma. According to 2014 government statistics, 50.5 percent of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are women.

The Filipino women migrant workers are also comparatively younger than their male counterparts; almost three in every 10 female OFWs are between 25 and 29 years old.

The United States recognizes that women empowerment is needed for stability, peace, and development, US Ambassador-at-Large Catherine Russell said, adding that the US believes that women are entitled to the same rights as men.

This selection of news and comment is provided as a service to Network users, and is not intended to be comprehensive. The articles featured are compiled by external agencies and in no way reflect the views of the ILO, its constituents or partners. Their inclusion does not imply the endorsement or approval by the ILO of the information contained therein.

Source: http://www.interaksyon.com/business/117669/women-migrant-workers-more-vulnerable-to-sexual-harassment---apec

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