Press Release
March 7, 2018

80% of migrant domestic workers suffer abuse

Senator Sonny Angara has called for stronger implementation of the Magna Carta of Women--a comprehensive law that protects the rights of Filipinas--amid rising cases of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) abuse, especially among women.

"Hindi na po makatao ang kalunus-lunos na mga karanasan ng ating overseas workers. Karamihan pa sa mga ito ay pagmamaltrato at pang-aabuso sa mga kababaihang OFW. We need to put a stop to this and make sure that their right to decent work is protected," said Angara, one of the authors of Magna Carta of Women of 2009 or Republic Act 9710.

The lawmaker underscored the provision in the Magna Carta which states that the government should promote the rights and welfare of migrant women regardless of their work status, and protect them against discrimination in wages, and unfavorable work conditions.

"In recognition of the temporary nature of overseas work, the State shall exert all efforts to address the causes of out-migration by developing local employment and other economic opportunities for women and by introducing measures to curb violence and forced and involuntary displacement of local women," the law read.

However, despite being enacted for almost a decade, Angara lamented that there are still more female overseas workers who are engaged in unskilled labor.

Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority, of the 2.2 million OFWs, 54% are Filipinas. Female OFWs were generally younger, with more than two-thirds (68%) aging 25 to 39.

More than half (56%) of the female OFWs were in elementary occupations such as domestic helpers and cleaners.

In the wake of the killing of Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in a freezer, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa has estimated that 80% of overstaying OFWs are domestic workers--majority of whom have claimed abuse from employers.

"Our OFWs risk maltreatment, physical and sexual abuse, even death just so they can provide for their families back home. Di bale nang malagay sila sa peligro, masiguro lang na mabibigyan nila ng magandang buhay ang kanilang mga anak at pamilya. This should not be the case," said Angara, who is also the author of the new Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA) law.

The Magna Carta of Women mandates the designation of Gender Focal Point Officers in Philippine embassies and consulates who are primarily responsible in handling gender concerns of women migrant workers.

Moreover, under the law, the government should provide employment opportunities and promote entrepreneurship development of returning women migrant workers to help them establish local business.

Women migrant workers should also have the opportunity to undergo skills training, before taking on a foreign job, and possible retraining upon return so as to widen their career options.

The senator further stressed that supervisory positions in government must achieve a 50-50 gender balance as mandated under RA 9710.

Data from the Civil Service Commission showed that men (57%) still outnumber women (43%) in the top level or decision-making positions in the government. This include the Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary, Bureau Director, Regional Director, Chief of Department Service and other officers of equivalent rank, all of whom are appointed by the President.

"As we celebrate International Women's Day which highlights the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, let us also keep in mind the struggles of our Filipina kababayans abroad. Let us all work together to save our own modern day heroes," Angara said.

News Latest News Feed