Forum hears of migrants' plight

Forum hears of migrants' plight

Female migrant workers in Thailand are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and often end up working long arduous hours in the toughest sectors for sub-standard wages, a forum was told on Sunday.

Speaking at a forum held by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, to raise awareness about migrant women workers' rights, Patima Tungouchakul, co-founder of the Labour Protection Network, said women migrants in Thailand are generally paid less than men for doing the same work.

Some, especially those who are illegal workers, are paid even less than minimum wage and have to work long hours in tough sectors such as construction, agriculture and fishing, said Ms Patima. She said cultural norms which see women workers as secondary value affect the opportunities available to them and restricts their ability to access regular migration into skilled, safe and well-paid employment.

Ms Patima said female migrant workers suffer from discrimination and face sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence at home before migration, during migration and upon their return.

"Whether migrating through regular or irregular channels, women face the risk of violence from intermediaries and employers, as well as from partners and others," she said.

She said that despite having their rights violated, many female migrant workers face pressure to continue their jobs because of the burden imposed on them to also make a contribution to the household income.

Chontit Chuenurah, the Head of the Implementation of the Bangkok Rules and Treatment of Offenders Programme at the Thailand Institute of Justice, said violations against migrant women are not investigated due to a set of challenges. "Fear of being deported, reluctance to report abuses, language and cultural barriers are among the obstacles, she said.

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