Mantle of protection-A A +A
Slice of Life
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
THE usual tale of terror. Of dreams crushed and fleeting hopes that things would be better for them while in a foreign country. Cloaked in invisibility, they survive on their own until they get help through other domestic workers or organizations.
Myra (not her real name) was just 17 years old when she went outside the country to work as domestic help. Upon arrival, her employer confiscated her passport in the pretext of safekeeping. She found herself working for twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week and with a measly pay.
Away from their families, and without legal protection, the narratives of overseas domestic workers vary from abuse, survival to desperation and even death.
There is an estimate of 8.6M to 11M Overseas Filipino Workers worldwide or about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. More than half of the female OFWs (56.1%) in April were domestic workers and cleaners. The Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) recorded a total of 1.9M domestic workers outside the country.
Most of them are unprotected as legal agreements among host countries are non-existent. This will change with the historic session last August 6 where the Senate voted unanimously to concur with the ratification of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers provides a mechanism of protection for the thousands of workers.
The country is second after Uruguay to ratify the ILO Convention 189, which will now enter into force as soon as the government formally delivers the ratification instrument to ILO Geneva.
The Convention mandates ratifying ILO member countries to establish standards for decent wages, employment conditions, social protection coverage, and effective protection against forced labor, debt bondage, and other forms of abuse.
On 2010, the Senate has passed the Kasambahay Bill to protect domestic workers. It is now pending for Third and Final reading at the House of Representatives. Under the proposed bill, household helpers are assured of a minimum wage, 13th month pay, regular days off, wider social security protection, provision of education, and better working conditions.
The passage of the Kasambahay bill would provide protection and value to domestic work. It will also protect women and children from trafficking and abuse. Like any local or international legal instrument, the challenge is monitoring its implementation and ensuring that the law will genuinely provide a mantel of protection. Salute to Visayan Forum and other international human rights organizations which have strongly pushed for the passage of the law. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 29, 2012.