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Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 21:13:11 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: ASIA-PACIFIC: Migrant Women Workers Are Prey to Traffickers
Article: 53785
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.25777.19990204001615@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** headlines: 128.0 **/
** Topic: ASIA-PACIFIC: Migrant Women Workers Are Prey to Traffickers **
** Written 12:29 PM Feb 1, 1999 by mmason in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 4:59 AM Jan 29, 1999 by DEBRA@OLN.comlink.apc.org in hrnet.women */
/* ---------- "INTL: Migrants at the mercy of huma" ---------- */

Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network

## author : suriya@samart.co.th
## date : 18.11.98

Source unknown

Migrants at the mercy of human traffickers. Global economic woes compound situation

By Anjira Assavanonda
7 November 1998

The current economic crisis coupled with the suppression of illegal workers have aggravated the vulnerable situation of migrants, particularly women, caught in the human trafficking racket in the Asia-Pacific region, a report claimed.

A paper prepared by the International Organisation for Migration, presented at the Regional Conference on Trafficking in Women organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said the problem of trafficking in women will worsen due to changes in the economic and social environment in the region.

In his presentation, IOM representative Anders Knudsen said the current crisis has forced the lives of illegal migrants further underground.

In a response to economic problems, many of the receiving countries in the region have imposed stricter measures against illegally employed foreign workers.

The possibilities of obtaining work permits have also decreased drastically.

However, it was noted that considerable demand for foreign labour still exists.

Due to the economic downturn, many private companies have been forced to cut costs to survive.

One option being applied is a reduction in salaries by employing cheap foreign and irregular labour.

With big supply and strong demand in the labour market, measures aimed at limiting migration failed to reduce the presence of foreign workers.

Mr Knudsen said illegal cross-border migration has created a market for services, such as the provision of forged travel documents, transportation, guided border crossings, accommodation and job brokering.

The smuggling of illegal aliens is said to be a very profitable business, he said.

"Before the downturn many could migrate freely and by their own means, but now with stricter enforcement many have turned to services offered by traffickers to reach their goal," he said.

A larger number of migrants are now depending on the protection of employers in order not to be arrested and deported.

Such dependence on employers often leaves migrants at risk of abuse, exploitation, humiliation, and violence from employers and corrupt police.

However, although migrants, particularly women, are often abused, they rarely enjoy any legal rights in the receiving countries. If they complain to the police, they are simply arrested, charged with illegal entry and deported.

Trafficking is part of a migration problem, and trafficking in women is particularly disturbing as female migrants are more vulnerable than male.

Mr Knudsen said the problems facing female migrants have been combined by several factors, including violation of basic human rights in the form of extortion, debt bondage, and sexual exploitation.

Illegal migrants also do not have access to public health care and their children do not have access to public education.

To solve the problem, he said that governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations must work together to address the root causes such as poverty, lack of opportunities, scarce resources, low status of women in society and political and economic instability which drive irregular migration as a whole.

The IOM has focussed on two stages in the trafficking process. The first is through prevention before victimisation occurs, by providing potential victims with information about trafficking so that they will be in a better position to make an informed decision.

The second concentrates on direct assistance and support to the victims of trafficking.

The IOM also emphasised a new range of activities for international organisations, governments and NGOs such as adoption of policies and legislation to penalise traffickers, established systems to distinguish between "normal" irregular migrants and victims of trafficking and legal and medical assistance for victims of trafficking.

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