Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International celebrate the victory of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih after the Wanchai District Court in Hong Kong found her employer guilty on charges of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation.
Migrante International said that Erwiana’s victory is a victory for all migrant workers who continue to stand up against modern-day slavery. “Erwiana continues to serve as a great inspiration for Filipino migrant workers, especially Filipina domestic workers all over the world. Her victory is well-fought and much-deserved. We celebrate her victory as we also prepare to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.
Erwiana’s case, the latest most gruesome case depicting the suffering and plight of domestic workers, especially women domestic workers, is testament to how forced migration and labor export have become the worst cause and manifestation of all forms of abuse, oppression and exploitation of women all over the world.
Pillas said, since Contemplacion’s execution in 1995, the “feminization” of labor migration driven by the rise in number of domestic workers and caregivers going abroad has perpetuated very specific vulnerabilites that women migrant workers face because they are women. “They suffer sexual discrimination and other gender-specific abuses, exploitation and violence in the sorts of work where they tend to predominated. This is especially the case for domestic workers.”
“They are most vulnerable to abuse and often mistreated by employers. Many are beaten and raped, and many are murdered. They are lowly-paid and do not enjoy social protection, isolated and discriminated against and without legal recourse because their work is not considered as work and not covered by any existing legal frameworks. Worse, their marginalization is implicitly condoned by States as principal agents peddling domestic workers like ordinary commodities without guarantee of protection or avenues for redress of grievance,” she said.
Migrante International also extends its solidarity with other migrants’ organizations and advocates that fought for Erwiana. The Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee, of which Migrante is part, led 5,000 domestic workers and supporters in a protest march and rally in Hong Kong last year. Other Filipino and migrant domestic workers also held solidarity actions and activities for Erwiana as her case was being heard.
“But, while we won this battle, a war continues to rage. There are still many Erwianas and Flors elsewhere in the world who have fallen victim to trafficking, abuse, exploitation and government neglect. May Erwiana’s recent victory further encourage Filipino migrant workers to unite, organize and galvanize collective action to oppose anti-migrant policies and end modern-day slavery,” Pillas said.
Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###