Thursday, March 12, 2009

UN Report: Asian Migrant Women Face Vulnerability in the Arab States

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Despite the substantial economic benefits that Asian women migrant workers generate from their work in the Arab region, they often migrate under unsafe conditions, are targets of sexual exploitation and violence, and are highly vulnerable to factors that lead to HIV infection, says a study released here today by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

In the midst of the global economic crisis, with rates of unemployment multiplying on a daily basis, the situation of migrant workers is under threat. When demand for labour wanes, those in the weakest bargaining position, usually temporary migrant workers and particularly the undocumented, will accept almost any conditions to hold on to their jobs.

Based on almost 600 interviews in four Asian countries and three in the Arab States, the report, HIV Vulnerabilities of Migrant Women: from Asia to the Arab States, reveals the social, economic and health toll that migration imposes on emigrating women, particularly low-skilled ones who are lured by job prospects.

The Arab States are the primary destination for many migrant workers from Asia, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the countries which are the focus of the research. The host countries examined in the study are: Bahrain, Lebanon and UAE.

The report, a collaborative initiative of UNDP, UNAIDS, IOM and UNIFEM estimates that 70-80 percent of migrants from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to the Arab States are women. Between 1991 and 2007, 60 percent of women migrants from Bangladesh left to find employment in the Arab States. Remittances from Filipinos working in the Arab States in 2007 amounted to $2.17 billion. In Bangladesh, migrant workers sent back close to $637 million from the UAE. Current remittances by migrant workers from Sri Lanka amount to $3 billion...


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