They worked in agriculture, fishing and fish processing and small-scale manufacturing firms in Thailand. Thailand is also a major destination for cross-border trafficked women and children in the Mekong region. Records showed that more than 1 million migrant workers registered in the government (Human Trafficking).
The study also said that these said sectors rely on and need cheap labor in order to achieve or maintain a competitive edge in their respective industries (Human Trafficking 2006). Migrant workers filled the demand. Local Thai workers would not want to work for below-minimum wages. More than 40% of foreign domestic workers in Thailand were paid only Bt 1,000 or less a month. Less or close to nine out of 10 at 89% received Bt3,000 or less. More than half of all interviewed employers in the mentioned industries believed that their migrant employees should not be allowed to leave the work premises during working hours without permission. A Cambodian domestic helper reported that she worked for her employer for two years all day but could not go to bed until 2 in the morning, got up at 5:00 in the morning and never got paid. Her employer also slapped, hit or pinched her. A fishing boat teenage worker said he and his workmates worked all day and night without stopping. They had not been physically beaten but were scared of being thrown out of the boat and beaten with heavy hooks like other crew members (Human Trafficking).
Malaysian newspapers reported that more than 15 million foreign nationals entered the country in 2004 and only more than 9 million left that year (Hector et al. 2004). This meant that more than 5 million or 38% overstayed. Analysts believed that migrant workers could account for 30% of Malaysia's current workforce. They welcomed this because Malaysian businesses could benefit from cheaper labor from workers for their lower-paid sectors of construction, agriculture and services. Countries providing cheap labor include the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and India (Hector et al.).
For their contributions to the Malaysian economy, many migrant workers suffer extreme difficulties (Hector et al. 2004). According to Amnesty International, they worked under substandard conditions, had no access to basic services and faced risks of physical and sexual abuse. They contended with weak or anomalous recruitment regulations and had limited legal protection. They were also opened to exploitation by recruitment agencies and employers. Undocumented migrant workers suffered even more. The government persists in tracking them down while recruiting other migrant workers to replace them. In all the stages of the process, employers, the police, immigration officials and unscrupulous recruitment agencies violate these workers' basic rights. The crackdowns are a syndicated, multi-agency initiative, called Ops Nyah Bersepadu II. Launched in February 2000, the initiative managed to deport 200,000 undocumented migrant workers. One agency, Ops Sayang, hunted down sex workers. "Ops Pintu" was assigned to undocumented foreign domestic workers. The "Ops Mahir" agency tracked down undocumented migrant workers in their places of work. In implementing the crackdowns, the police used bulldozers to destroy the migrant workers' makeshift homes. In 2004, a citizens' volunteer corps, called Rela, was authorize to arrest undocumented workers. It could also search travel documents, arrest, detain and enter premises and hiding places (Hector et al.).
As a consequence of these operations, prisons soon overflowed with migrant workers (Hector et al. 2004). According to the Deputy Home Minister, more than 25% of jail inmates were foreigners in 2003. The following year, there were more foreign prisoners than Malaysians. Some of them remained in detention even after the end of their prison terms. Immigration detention centers also continue to accept more migrants and, in the process, increase the incidence of abuses and the overall poor conditions of the centers. And in addition to imprisonment and deportation, migrants are subjected to corporal punishment such as mandatory caning and whipping (Hector et al.).
This country's 160,000 migrant domestic workers are mostly women (Jones 2008).
Ironically, Singapore's labor laws still do not extend key protection to domestic workers. The situation, thus, opens the workers to exploitation. Most of them come from Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. They leave their families and countries in search of more profitable sources of income for themselves and their loved ones. One in six Singapore families hires a domestic worker through several but inadequately monitored recruitment agencies. A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch described the working conditions of domestic workers in Singapore. Between 1999 and 2005, 147 migrant domestic workers died of work-related accidents or suicide. They fell or jumped from residential buildings. Research revealed that these workers experienced poor working conditions, anxiety over debts to recruiting agencies, social isolation and prolonged confinement. They work 13-19 hours a day all seven days a week. They are not allowed to leave their place of work. They typically earn less than half of what local workers earn for the same functions. They are forced to give up their pay for the first 4 to 10 months to repay their recruiting agency. Sometimes, their agent or employer manipulates details of the work agreement so that migrant workers are held up as forced labor (Jones).
The largest group of migrant workers in this country comes from Vietnam (Mekong
Migration Network 2005). They have lived as a large community for many generations in this country. Temporary and long-term migrants enter Cambodia as well. Many of these long-term migrants run small businesses and hire new Vietnamese migrant workers as craftsmen. Others work as fishermen and hired laborers, including sex workers. These workers contend with discrimination, language barriers, unsanitary living and working conditions, limited health care access, lack of legal documentation, deportation and corrupt police and border authorities (Mekong Migration Network).
Because of poverty, debt, the lack of land, jobs and economic opportunities drive Cambodians to seek a better life in other countries (Mekong Migration Network 2005). Within Cambodia, life is rural areas has proved unsustainable. People in these areas migrate to the urban areas or abroad in order to survive. They find no better alternatives to migration. Yet Cambodia does not have adequate migration policies. Its main policy document is outdated and provides only for the recruitment and interaction with licensed recruitment agencies. It has no or does not have sufficient labor attaches in its embassies in receiving countries to help its migrant workers (Mekong Migrant Network).
Why Irregular Migration is Undesirable
Unscrupulous foreign job recruits provide migrant workers a false picture of how it is to enter and work in another country (Wickramasekera 2000). These workers are thus not aware that an irregular status opens them to various rights abuses and exploitation. They may be paid the lowest wages. They may be blackmailed by the local mafia, labor brokers, and criminal elements. The receiving country will not feel obliged to treat them with decency because of their irregular status. On the whole, migrant workers of irregular status have no legal safeguards for health and lives, cannot join unions or bargain, ask for fair wages, seek compensation for illness or injury and have no security of employment (Wickaramasekera). #
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Human Trafficking. Human Rights Violations of Migrant…