v15_2004m - Vulnerabilities andVisibility: Thailands...

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1 Vulnerabilities andVisibility: Thailand’s Management of Female Domestic Workers from Burma 7 Sirithon Thanasombat is a Master of Public Affairs candidate at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University (sthanaso@princeton.edu). Journal of Public and International Affairs, Volume 15/Spring 2004 Copyright © 2004, the Trustees of Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/~jpia V ULNERABILITIES AND V ISIBILITY : T HAILAND S M ANAGEMENT OF F EMALE D OMESTIC W ORKERS FROM B URMA Sirithon Thanasombat This article examines the difficulties of managing the migration of domestic workers from Burma to Thailand. It suggests that, although measures can be taken to attract registrants, in order for the management process to be successful, policy makers must take into account the acute vulnerabilities associated with domestic service, including workers’ isolation, exposure to sexual harassment and abuse, and lack of legal recognition under Thai labor laws. In addition to tracing recent trends in Burmese labor migration and Thai immigration policy, the article identifies six main challenges faced by migrants. The author’s policy recommendations, influenced by interviews with relevant stakeholders, seek to address these challenges directly, while providing a foundation for better protection, transparency, and enforcement of labor rights in Thailand. I NTRODUCTION International organizations have long struggled with the challenges pre- sented by irregular migrant workers in the informal sector. Agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) have developed frame-
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2 Sirithon Thanasombat works for the protection of all workers, regardless of their employment status or nationality. The Declaration of Philadelphia, included in the ILO Constitution as the Declaration Concerning the Aims and Purposes of the International Labour Organization, asserts that economic and financial measures should be evaluated based on their ability to promote the social welfare of all persons. The ILO Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, unanimously adopted in 1998 by the International Labor Conference, applies to all workers, regardless of employment re- lationship or formality of status, and specifically addresses the needs of informal sector workers. The ILO cites its objective of “protect[ing] the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own” in the preamble of its constitution. In addition to these documents, four main conventions prescribe legal and political standards. 1 Migrant work- ers also are protected by other ILO standards, as ILO conventions and recommendations apply to all workers, regardless of their nationality (Weinert 1992, 191). Although member states have signed a number of conventions to pro-
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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v15_2004m - Vulnerabilities andVisibility: Thailands...

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