Empowering Marriage Migrants MM

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MMMigrantPhotos of the AsiaPacificConference on MarriageMigrants, Empowermentand Family1 - Ramon Bultron of theAPMM2 - Retnodewi Paquita of ATKIIndonesia3 - Man-Chi Hung of TASAT4 - Hsia Hsiao-Chuan ofTASAT5 - The resoure persons on thesituation of marriage migrants6 - Joan Salvador of Gabriela352Monitor Issue 2013-21246

Empowering Marriage MigrantsMMTable of ContentsCommuniqué of theAsia Pacific Conference on Marriage Migrants,Empowerment and Family4Women and the Economic CrisisLiza Maza, International Women’s Alliance8Women Who Must Stay: Citizenship, Residence andMarriage Status of Immigrant Women in TaiwanShih-Ying Cheng, TransAsia Sisters’ Association, Taiwan12Socio-cultural Integration:The Plight of Marriage Migrants in JapanGing Pamplona Khono, Damayan-Migrante18The Life and Struggleof Marriage Migrants andTheir Children in Hong KongYeung Mei, New Arrival Women’s League22Policies of Marriage Migrants’ Residence Status andActivities on them from the Viewpoint of the RightsMovementKim Min-jeong, AsiaChang28Migration Status and Marriage Migrants’ Access toServices in AustraliaJane Corpuz-Brock, International Women’s Speakout Australia343

MMMigrant Monitor Issue 2013-2Communique of theAsia Pacific Conferenceon Marriage Migrants,Empowerment and FamilyGraduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies,Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan8-9 June 2013Forty participants, namely marriage migrants’ themselves andtheir organizations, migrants’ rights groups, the academe and advocates from ten countries and regions (Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand,South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, United States of America, Cambodia,Philippines and Vietnam) gathered together in Taiwan for the Asia Pacific Conference on Marriage Migrants, Empowerment and Family. Theconference explored the various issues faced by marriage migrants inhost countries and developed strategies for addressing these concerns.Man-Chi Hung of the Trans-Asia Sisters Association Taiwan (TASAT)welcomed both the international and local participants to Taiwan. Amarriage migrant herself, she expressed the significance of the conference in discussing these issues but also coming together to strengthensolidarity among themselves and other advocates. Ramon Bultron ofthe Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants opened the conference by locat4

Empowering Marriage MigrantsMMMarriage migrants, like other women, experience avariety of forms of violence against women includingemotional, sexual and physical abuse. However,marriage migrants remain uniquely vulnerable tothis form of exploitation as protection from the statelargely depends on their marital and citizenshipstatus.ing it in the ongoing struggle of marriage migrants andreminded the group that thisconference’s aim is to continueand elaborate on discussionsfrom previous conferences in2005 and 2007.In her keynote speech, LizaMaza of the InternationalWomen’s Alliance spoke aboutthe effect of the global crisison migrant women. She mentioned how women, includingmarriage migrants, are doublyaffected by the ongoing crisis –first by their economic statusand secondly by their genderrole. She highlighted the needto incorporate the struggleof marriage migrants in thegrowing women’s movement.Hsiao-Chuan Hsia deliveredan overview about the general situation and trends formarriage migrants within theAsia Pacific region. She talkedabout how the global capitalistsystem created a reproductioncrisis wherein marriage migration becomes a “self-help” solution for the underprivilegedclass and an additional sourceof cheap labor. As marriagemigration increases, the stateenacts reactionary migrationpolicies in response to anxietyover “population quality” andembedded ideologies of classism, sexism and racism.The panel presentation thatfollowed consisted of fivespeakers from the primaryhost countries and country regions for marriage migrants:Min Jeong of Asia Chang fromSouth Korea, Jane Brock fromImmigrant Women Speakoutin Australia, Ging Kohno fromDamayan-Migrante in Japan,Shih Ying Cheng from theTASAT, and Yeung Mei fromthe New Arrival Women’sLeague in Hong Kong. Theydiscussed difficulties in obtaining citizenship in host countries, access to employmentand services, socioculturalintegration, family formationand reunification, and concerns of children and youth.Through the presentations, itbecame clear that state policiesdiscriminate against marriagemigrants and their children.These policies inhibit theirability to integrate into the local culture and connect to theirnew surroundings. They alsothreaten their safety and security in host countries. Someexperience extreme hardship,including living in poverty.Marriage migrants, like otherwomen, experience a varietyof forms of violence againstwomen including emotional,sexual and physical abuse.However, marriage migrantsremain uniquely vulnerableto this form of exploitationas protection from the statelargely depends on their marital and citizenship status.In addition to restrictive statepolicies, marriage migrants experience severe hardship whentrying to integrate socially andculturally into their new country. The presenters from Japanand Taiwan discussed the effect of traditional female gender roles because the host society defines their worth basedon their ability to be a “goodwife,” a “good mother” and a“good daughter-in-law.”Following the panel, participants were divided into threegroups for the first workshopsession. In the first session,they identified the trans-regional issues confronting marriage migrants, building uponthe issues discussed in the pan5

MMMigrant Monitor Issue 2013-2We willcontinue todiscuss ourchallenges,share our ideas,reach out toother sectors,and build amovement.Through thesesustainedefforts, wehope to end todiscriminatorypolicies and seea society thatacknowledgesourcontributions.6el presentations. Several mainissues arose among the groups,primarily rights of citizenship,social exclusion as a result ofboth official state policies andthe ongoing patriarchal makeup of the society, and financialdifficulties (access to employment, social services, etc.) Participants also connected thepersonal discrimination thatthey experience as a result andcontinued expression of statepolicies, so it becomes statesponsoreddiscrimination.With this, the participants alsoquestioned the role of the hostand origin-country governments in ensuring protectionof marriage migrants.Each group also discussed therising rate of marriage brokersarranging these internationalmarriages. This phenomenonamounts to the commodification of migrant women andtheir bodies. One workshopgrouping located this issuewithin the larger frameworkof global sex trafficking. Inanother workshop group, oneparticipant questioned whotruly benefits from the marriage broker system.Finally, the groups asked serious questions about how andwhy women like themselvesbecome marriage migrants.More specifically, they aimedto identify the driving forcescompelling women to leavetheir home country to marrya foreigner, the men in lookingfor foreign wives, and the challenges faced by their childrenin the home countries.The second workshop devisedthe following resolutions andplans for the coming months:With the goal of eliminatingdiscrimination and preventingsocial exclusion, the conference agreed on the followingprojects to raise public awareness about the issues facingmarriage migrants:1. Create an AMMORE website in multiple languages andan official logo.2. Participate in UN “Red Letter” days, such as InternationalWomen’s Day, with other localmigrant and women’s organizations.3. Continue the disseminationof life stories of marriage migrants through publications.4. Develop a pool of translators from existing AMMOREmembers to allow the networkto disseminate information inmultiple languages.5. Find ways to raise awarenessto the media about marriagemigrants and use alternativemedia and the internet to shareinformation, possibly througha radio program and a shortfilm.6. Engage and discuss withlawyers about immigrationpolicies as they relate to marriage migrants to enable themto better serve marriage migrants.To promote the advocacy workof marriage migrants and empower additional marriage migrants to join the movement,the conference agreed on thefollowing actions:

Empowering Marriage Migrants1. Write a policy paper detailing the conditions of marriagemigrants in host countries andproposing possible actionsfor the governments to taketo improve these conditions.This paper can be submitted togovernments and internationalbodies such as the Committeeon the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) and will guide ouradvocacy work.2. Conduct exchange trips formarriage migrants to visit eachother in several host countriesto provide marriage migrantswith opportunities to learnfrom each other.3. Launch a campaign againststate violence and policies ofsocial exclusion directed towards marriage migrants inhost countries.4. Campaign in origin countries to raise awareness forpotential marriage migrantsso that they can make an informed choice about becoming a marriage migrant.5. Publish a “Know YourRights” in each host countryto assist marriage migrantsin advocating their rights andaddressing concrete situationsthat they may be in.6. Conduct further researcharound these topics: whywomen leave their home countries, the abuse that they facein host countries and the useof marriage brokers.In order to strengthen theAMMORE network, the con-MMference agreed on the following actions:1. Define the framework ofAMMORE and support its development.2. Expand the network.This conference marked anew era of marriage migrantsstruggling for the recognitionof their rights, the protectionof their welfare and especially that of their families, andagainst oppressive policies ofgovernments. We will continueto discuss our challenges, shareour ideas, reach out to othersectors, and build a movement. Through these sustainedefforts, we hope to end to discriminatory policies and see asociety that acknowledges ourcontributions.(MM2013)7

MMMigrant Monitor Issue 2013-2Women and theEconomic CrisisKeynote Speech by Liza MazaChairperson of the International Women’s Alliance (IWA)for the Asia Pacific Conference on Marriage Migration,Empowerment and Family8 June 2013Taipei, TaiwanLet me first congratulate the APMM and AMMORE forholding this conference with the end goal of drawing up resolutions andproposals that will address the issues confronting marriage migrantsand their families today.Seen against the backdrop of the current protracted depression of theworld economy, I can only surmise that the marriage migrants are notimmune, but in fact, adversely affected by this global economic crisis,which is seen as the worst since the Great Depression. I hope that inyour workshops, you will be able to name the issues and come up withproposals that will advance the rights and interests of marriage migrants and their families.There is no end in sight for the current economic and financial crisis. Infact, it is even getting worse because the capitalists’ response to the crisis was to put in place austerity measures which further increased unemployment, pushed wages down, removed social benefits and protec8

Empowering Marriage MigrantsWomenworkerswanting toalleviate theimpact ofthe crisis ontheir familiesby taking onjobs in laborintensive andexport-orientedindustriesare actuallyin morevulnerablepositions ofexploitationand oppression.tion, and reduced governmentspending on social services.They also bailed out multinational and transnational corporations from bankruptcy,resulting in huge governmentdeficits and debts.Aside from these neoliberalpolicies, capitalists and imperialist countries continue towage wars of aggression andmilitary interventions in manyparts of the world to furthertheir socio-economic and political dominance.History has proven that it isalways women who are themost vulnerable in times ofeconomic downturn. The current economic and financialcrisis, which started in the lastquarter of the last decade, is noexemption and has in fact exemplified this.Poverty and hungerCapitalism’s failure, as manifested in the current crisis, isblatantly obvious according tothe data on global poverty andhunger. Of the 7 billion peoplearound the globe, 1.4 billion inpoor countries live on US 1.25or less per day. Seventy fivepercent of the 1.4 billion arepeople living in the rural areaswho depend on agriculture astheir primary source of livelihood.Moreover, 870 million people are suffering from hunger.Of the total number, 578 million are in the Asia Pacific region. In fact, two-thirds of theworld’s hungry can be foundin just seven countries, five ofwhich are in Asia: Bangladesh,China, India, Indonesia andPakistan.Women account for 60% of thetotal number of people experiencing hunger.Women WorkersThe failure of capitalism andthe effect of the global crisisis also reflected in the dismalparticipation of women in thelabor force. According to the2011 International Labor Organization (ILO) and AsianDevelopment Bank (ADB)MMdata, the women’s labor participation rate stands at a low55.5% compared to the men’s80.7%. Women, who in thefirst place had been forced totake on the lowest paying jobavailable, were the first to befired when factories or exportprocessing zones shut downdue to the crisis and the lastto be regularized when thingsstarted to settle.Ironically, there is a high demand for women workers inlabor-intensive and exportoriented industries such aselectronics, textiles, garmentsand auto parts where womenwork as casual, temporary,contract workers and receivebelow standard minimumwages, suffer from poor working conditions, discriminationand lack of social benefits andprotection. They are exposedto different forms of abusesand exploitation.Women workers, according toa study by the United NationsEconomic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) are a “buffer workforce”, absorbing thefluctuating global supply anddemand for workforce, especially in this time of economiccrisis. This means that womenworkers wanting to alleviate the impact of the crisis ontheir families by taking on jobsin labor-intensive and exportoriented industries are actuallyin more vulnerable positionsof exploitation and oppression.Regardless of the demand forwomen workers in certain industries, less and less womenremain in regular wage and9

MMMigrant Monitor Issue 2013-2salary employment. More andmore are forced to work inlow-productivity and insecureemployment in the vulnerableand informal sector and in unpaid family work .More and more women arebeing employed in the servicesector. They are in the healthsector as nurses, midwives,caregivers, and in householdsas maids, cooks, waitresses,caretakers, babysitters and secretaries. In Asia, particularly,domestic work is a growingsource of informal employment.Women in AgricultureIn Asia, especially in SouthAsia, agriculture remains thewomen’s number one employer. The ILO data in 2010 showsthat 48.2% of women work inthe agriculture sector producing mainly food. This is almost10% higher that the number ofmen in the same sector, whosework is mostly to managecommercial crops. Indeed it isone of the greatest ironies thatalthough women produce theworld’s food, majority of theworld’s hungry are women.In the agricultural sector,women’s work remains invisible and lower paid comparedto men. Farmers includingwomen who are in food production are displaced by cropconversion and by land grabbing that has been on the increase in recent years due tothe renewed interest of multinational and transnationalcorporations for agriculturalland. These lands are considered to be new strategic assets10Marriagemigrationis anotherphenomenonfast becomingcommon. Infact, it hasbecome a new,and in someinstances, adominant formof permanentmigration. Itaccounts forone quarterof permanentmigration inJapan in recentyears, and onehalf in SouthKorea.following the crisis.With the massive land grabbing comes concern over thefood security of countriesleasing or selling vast tracts offarmland, the dislocation, lossof livelihood and violation ofthe human rights of the localcommunities, and the socialand environmental impacts ofthe land grabs.Women Migrant WorkersThe worsening poverty andhunger in the face of the crisisand the continuing lack of opportunities to alleviate theseeconomic ills have forcedwomen to continue theirsearch of “greener pastures”. Ofthe 200 million people migrating to and from all parts of theworld, 90% are migrant workers, and half are women.Developing countries in Asia,particularly Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, continue to providethe most number of womenmigrant workers. These countries continue to send morelabor abroad despite decreasing job security and worseningworking conditions of migrantworkers worldwide.Migrant workers are beingused as shock absorbers andscapegoats by migrant sendingand receiving countries. Migrant sending countries, whichrely heavily on remittancesto prop up their economies,have responded to the crisisthrough the “internationalization” of their workforce to address massive unemployment,which only meant the intensification of their labor exportpolicy through more intensesearch for overseas labor markets and increased “support” tomigrant workers such as accessto skills and language training,simplified application processand reduced application processing time and cost.

Empowering Marriage MigrantsWomen’s labor migrationopportunities remain morelimited than men’s. Whilewomen can be found in different skilled and unskilled jobs,majority is in low status, lowincome, low opportunity typeof employment. Jobs usuallyopen to women are “feminizedoccupations” - as domesticworkers, caregivers, cleaners,housekeepers, salesgirls, waitresses, entertainers, and laborslaves in sweatshops - reinforcing traditional gender role segregation and inequalities.Women unable to find employment in other countriesthrough regular channels resort to dangerous and illegalmeans such as backdoor andundocumented entry, exposing themselves to even graverconditions and situations suchas falling victims to trafficking,prostitution, smuggling anddrug dealing, among others.An estimated 2.5 million people are forced into labor atany given time as a result oftrafficking, with 43% of thevictims being used for commercial sexual exploitation(98% of whom are women andgirls) and 32% being used foreconomic exploitation (56% ofwhom are women). Sex trafficking is most common in thePhilippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Accordingto the ILO, “the economic andsocial forces driving the sex industry show no signs of slowing down, particularly in thelight of the rising unemployment in the region.”Marriage migration is anotherphenomenon fast becomingMMIt is imperative that we link ourstruggles to the struggles of thepoor and other marginalizedsectors who are sacrificed in thealtar of capitalism.common. In fact, it has becomea new, and in some instances, adominant form of permanentmigration. It accounts for onequarter of permanent migration in Japan in recent years,and one half in South Korea.Women who participate inmarriage migration are mostlyfrom underdeveloped countries. Often, they have difficultyintegrating into the economyand society of their husbands’country due to cultural differences and language barriersand discrimination due to gender, race and nationality.Marriage migration is also fastbecoming a new and growingvenue for human trafficking.Bogus marriages are victimizing women of any nationality,forcing them into slave laborand sex trade.Migrants and immigrantsalike, in the context of massiveretrenchments and unemployment worldwide, are increasingly becoming targets of resentment, discrimination, andin instances subjected to violence, as they are seen as “stealing” jobs from the locals. Theyhave become more vulnerableto deportat

Socio-cultural Integration: The Plight of Marriage Migrants in Japan Ging Pamplona Khono, Damayan-Migrante 18 The Life and Struggle of Marriage Migrants and Their Children in Hong Kong Yeung Mei, New Arrival Women’s League 22 Policies of Marriage Migrants’ Residence Status and Activities on them from the Viewpoint of the Rights Movement

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