E. Asia migrant domestic workers most abused victims in modern slavery

Updated 27 February 2016
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E. Asia migrant domestic workers most abused victims in modern slavery

LONDON: Forced labor 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, a survey of modern slavery in the sector has found.
More than 70 percent 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.
Many received false information about their future work, wages and living and working conditions, and were told they had built up debts of between $1,600 and $1,800 each in the process of getting a job.
More than 60 percent of them said their employers then restricted their movements and communications, or abused them.
“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.
“Some (recruitment agents) ... hold women against their will, take their passports, put them in debt and mislead them about the circumstances they will be working in,” he added.
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 labor 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.
“Not all people become migrant workers because of an economic problem. Many of my friends, including me, are forced to leave because of social pressures,” one 24-year-old woman from Indonesia’s West Java region told the researchers.
“A family whose daughter does not work abroad is considered a weird family,” she said.
Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, 11.7 million of them in the Asia Pacific region, according to the International Labor Organization.


New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

Updated 25 March 2019
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New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

  • "One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said
  • Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
Ardern said a royal commission -- the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law -- was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world.
"It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to how this act of terrorism occurred and how we could have stopped it," she told reporters.
New Zealand's spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from Islamic extremism.
Instead, the victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was an Islamist plot to "invade" Western countries.
"One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said.
"New Zealand is not a surveillance state ... but questions need to be answered."
Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was arrested minutes after the attack on the mosques and has been charged with murder.
She said details of the royal commission were being finalised, but it would be comprehensive and would report in a timely manner.
It will cover the activities of intelligence services, police, customs, immigration and any other relevant government agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The gunman livestreamed the attack online, although New Zealand has outlawed the footage as "objectionable content".
Ardern reiterated her believe it should not be aired.
"That video should not be shared. That is harmful content," she said when questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showing excerpts of the footage at campaign rallies for local elections this month.
Erdogan had angered both Wellington and Canberra with campaign rhetoric about anti-Muslim Australians and New Zealanders being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters travelled to Istanbul to meet Erdogan and address an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Peters said OIC members were full of praise for the support New Zealand had offered its small, tight-knit Muslim community in the wake of the killings.
"A number of them were weeping and sobbing at the demonstration (of support) by non-Muslim New Zealand towards the Muslim victims," he told reporters.
"It was dramatic and I was told by countless ministers that they've never seen anything of that type."
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, meanwhile, was returned Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead on March 15 to be repatriated.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.