Cambodia/ Malaysia: Domestic Workers Face Abuse

Extend Labor Protections to Migrant Women and Girls at Home, Abroad

Human Rights Watch, October 31, 2011
  • A collection of photographs displayed in the office of a maid agency in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. These photos picture migrant workers and their families receiving upfront cash loans as “incentive” for migrating to Malaysia. Migrants must work in Malaysia without a salary for six to seven months in order to repay these loans, along with the exorbitant recruitment and training fees owed to labor agents.
    © 2011 Jyotsna Poudyal/Human Rights Watch
Cambodia has been eager to promote labor migration but reluctant to provide even the most basic protections for migrant women and girls.
Jyotsna Poudyal, women’s rights research fellow

(Phnom Penh) – The Cambodian and Malaysian governments’ failure to regulate recruiters and employers leaves Cambodian migrant domestic workers exposed to a wide range of abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. Tens of thousands of Cambodian women and girls who migrate to Malaysia have little protection against forced confinement in training centers, heavy debt burdens, and exploitative working conditions.

The 105-page report, “‘They Deceived Us at Every Step’: Abuse of Cambodian Domestic Workers Migrating to Malaysia,”documents Cambodian domestic workers’ experiences during recruitment, work abroad, and upon their return home. It is based on 80 interviews with migrant domestic workers, their families, government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and recruitment agents. The report highlights the numerous obstacles that prevent mistreated women and girls from obtaining justice and redress in both Cambodia and Malaysia.

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