Monthly Archives: July 2015

Indian woman forced into prostitution in Malaysia tells her story

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Young Indian females are often lured by agents with false promises of domestic work in Malaysia and then subsequently coerced into commercial sex trade.

Twenty-eight-year-old Laxmi (name changed), is among numerous Indian women who come to Malaysia in the hope of a better paying job, but end up falling victim to sex trafficking instead.

Young Indian females are lured by agents with false promises of domestic work in Malaysia but are subsequently coerced into commercial sex trade. The agents charge heavy fees for obtaining travel documents, for which the women also end up taking heavy loans from relatives. Continue reading

Wage competition among SAARC nations harming migrant workers

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In early June, Nepali authorities announced that they would not issue work permits to outbound workers if employers did not bear the cost for visa and air ticket. The Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) maintained that the provision was meant to prevent economic exploitation of workers in the name of recruitment fee and eventually ensure cost-free outbound migration.

Shortly after the Nepali authorities made this announcement, Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced to bring 1.5 million workers in Malaysia from Bangladesh in next three years to meet the demands of employers from various sectors.

This could not have been a mere coincidence. Bangladeshi workers, who are considered cheapest laborers, remain banned in Malaysia except for the plantation sector since 2007 despite continued diplomatic efforts by Bangladesh to lift the ban. Continue reading

Who is against zero-cost migration and why?

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After the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) began issuing labour permits from its Tahachal office last year, the road leading to it past Soaltee Crowne Plaza was perpetually teeming with migrant workers lining up for their travel documents.

But this week, after the government’s new zero-cost migration policy came into effect, the road is crowded not with workers but with labour recruiters to protest the rule that would exempt Nepali workers from paying for visa fees and airfares.

The ‘manpower agents’ say the new policy that would benefit hundreds of thousands of Nepali workers is “impractical” and accuse Labour Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung of favouritism towards those who own big recruiting companies. Continue reading

The secret war on Asia’s workers

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When everything is a commodity, labour rights count little, says Josiah Mortimer.

There’s a war going on in Asia – and it’s one that, unlike ISIS in Iraq or the chaos in Syria, is failing to make the headlines. It’s the war on workers that is taking place across much of the continent, according to the Director of the Asia Monitor Resources Center in Hong Kong, Sanjiv Pandita.

The geographer David Harvey has termed this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. Across the continent, workers are being forced off their land to make way for plantations, mining, or even real estate. They’re resisting – but employers and police are using the age-old methods of repression. Continue reading

Labour migration experts in Malaysia warn of fraud, abuse again

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The plan to export manpower to Malaysia under private management without a strict monitoring system may create room for abuse and exploitation of overseas job seekers, as seen in the past, warned labour rights activists.

Malaysia last month announced that 15 lakh Bangladeshis would be recruited in the next three years under B2B (Business-to-Business) agreements. Continue reading

Building a dream, living in hell

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“Qatar deserves the best”. That is the slogan on boundary boards along important roads in and around Doha, the capital, with a population of 1.7 million. It ranks as the world’s richest country per capita thanks to its natural gas reserves, the third largest in the world.

The country is preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which means a massive construction boom. As the Qatari citizen won’t do the manual labour, tens of thousands of migrant labourers have taken up the burden. That has opened it to serious accusations of human rights abuses. Even FIFA tacitly admits it, and its embattled president Sepp Blatter confessed that he could do nothing about that.

The World Cup doesn’t wait, however. Even in this unforgiving weather, where temperatures reach 45 degrees, you can see migrant workers slaving away. Dark glasses and reflective vests are ubiquitous. Continue reading

Malaysia flouts own law on migrants’ trade union rights

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Malaysian authorities are found to have been violating their own law in not allowing migrant workers any trade union membership.

Although the Malaysian Employment Act, 1955 guarantees all workers, including migrant workers, the right to join a trade union, immigration authorities and local employers are systematically preventing the migrant workers from being a part of any trade union and engaging in any form of collective bargaining. This has made the migrants, who already face various forms of exploitation, additionally vulnerable. Continue reading