Want to work as a fisher in Thailand? Know your rights! Watch this video to find out how you can prepare for working as a fisher in Thailand to protect yourself and your family.
Migrant workers comprise most of the workforce in Thailand’s fishing sector. Ensuring that workers are aware of their rights and know how to find help to protect them is essential to keep them safe at work, preventing and ending abusive labour practices.
IOM X and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are launching a new video to make sure fishers know their rights at work, and how to protect them.
16.5 million people are trapped in situations of forced labour in the Asia Pacific. How can we empower consumers to make smarter choices and help end this?
By Tara Dermott, IOM X Program Leader
Consider this: there are currently 16.5 million people trapped in situations of forced labour in the Asia Pacific. Many of these are being exploited in the manufacturing industry. It’s a staggering statistic, and one that surprises many people I talk to.
Consumers tend to feel far removed from this fact. We don’t see the people who work long hours every day to produce clothes, assemble electronics, package food, or make shoes.
This year, Fashion Revolution Week (23-27 April 2018) marks five years since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tragically, 1,134 garment workers, working in unimaginably difficult conditions, lost their lives when a five-storey commercial building collapsed.
How can we encourage consumers to be more socially aware in their purchases? IOM X visited Thammasat University on the outskirts of Bangkok to brainstorm ways that strategic communication could be used to increase socially responsible consumerism here in Thailand.
Together, 30 students from the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, came up with six concepts for campaigns in just 30 minutes!
The Science of Being Socially Responsible
Focused on workers made to work with chemicals and other unsafe materials, this campaign would leverage science fairs in schools and public places to create opportunities for youth and their families to learn more about safety and how they can support the safety of workers. A game for mobile would also be developed as a fun and engaging way for youth to learn more about this important issue.
Who Made my Shoes?
Imagine going into your favourite athletic footwear store and selecting a pair of sneakers to try on. This campaign concept is that when you receive the box there is a photo and story of the worker who made your shoe. In this way, the footwear brand can demonstrate that good products are made by happy and willing workers. Furthermore, a percentage of the profit from this line would go towards organizations that support workers.
This advocacy campaign would encourage consumers to call upon their favourite companies to Know the Chain, encouraging transparency and action to rid supply chains of slavery. The concept is to have one short video that rewinds from the moment a consumer purchases a product back through all of the workers who were involved in the production from raw materials to manufacturing. Once this video has grabbed your attention, you can then tune in to watch a longer documentary program to learn more about the current state of supply chains of your favourite products.
Shake the Tag
Inspired by the Cruelty Free tag movement of makeup products that don’t test on animals, this campaign would promote Sweatshop Free products. Engaging influencers, such as fashion bloggers, would help to spread the word and credibility to this campaign.
Leveraging the power of media and the power of movement, this campaign would call out brands that have documented instances of exploitation in their supply chains. It would also encourage consumers to exercise their right of choice to protect the human rights of workers. This strong campaign concept has clear links to the ongoing Clean Clothes Campaign telling brands to take responsibility for their workers.
Regardless of how we learn about and engage with this issue, we need to remember that as consumers, our purchasing habits have an impact and the more we know about the people behind the products we buy, the better informed our decisions will be.
Thanks again to the brilliant students of MC309 Media Centre at Thammasat University!
Confiscated passports, withheld food, restricted communication and freedom of movement, and threats of having to repay travel costs served to coerce women into marriages.
By Sebastian Boll, Regional Research Specialist at UN-ACT
Chanthy’s* family in rural Cambodia was struggling financially. The money from the farm simply wasn’t sufficient anymore. She herself had moved to Phnom Penh for work, but the income was not great either. Then, one day, she received a phone call from her mother. “My mother said, ‘our neighbors went [to China for marriage] and have sent large amounts of money back home, and working in Phnom Penh you can only earn US$100 to support the family. It is not enough,’ ” she recalled. This marked the starting point in a cycle of deception, coercion, abuse – and, ultimately, forced marriage.
Chanthy’s story is one of many captured and analyzed for a research report on forced marriages between Cambodia and China (PDF) that UN-ACT published with partners in 2016. The project was a response to the growing number of identified cases between the two countries. But what is a forced marriage, and how does it relate to human trafficking?
Forced marriage is not well defined in international law. One of few available sources is a convention from 1956, which classifies institutions or practices whereby women, ‘without the right to refuse, [are] promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind’ to a third party as similar to slavery. Such institutions and practices were later included as forms of exploitation in the international definition of human trafficking, hence establishing clear linkages between the two phenomena.
These linkages have become even more apparent in recent manifestations of forced marriages, as part of patterns of commercial marriage migration. China, as a result of more than 30 years of one-child policy coupled with gender selection due to son preferences, houses some 30-40 million more men in marriageable age than women, with significant numbers of brides being recruited abroad including from Cambodia.
In Cambodia, a lack of educational and professional prospects, low wages, and high pressures to contribute financially to family life leaves many young women with few options but to look for work outside their home country. However, labour migration systems in the region are restrictive, especially for women, meaning marriage migration has become a viable alternative for many seeking opportunities abroad.
Both Cambodia and China prohibit international marriage brokerage and have introduced various other policies to prevent Cambodian women from marrying Chinese men. Aside from raising important rights-related questions, this has pushed potential migrants to enlist the services of irregular agents operating without transparency and accountability. Whilst anecdotal evidence suggests that some, perhaps many, of the Cambodian women living in arranged marriages in China appear content, the above research documented the downsides of the lack of oversight over brokers.
The Cambodian women interviewed were both deceived and coerced into marriages by agents to varying degrees. Some thought that they had come to China for the purpose of work and only later found out that they had to get married instead. Others were told that they needed to get married in order to find work in China, although marriage doesn’t grant employment opportunities for a minimum of 5 years. Further, the conditions of marriage proved to be significantly different to what was originally discussed.
Confiscated passports, withheld food, restricted communication and freedom of movement, and threats of having to repay travel costs to China all served to coerce women into marriages. These factors were compounded by their visa status, in that respondents had entered China on tourist visas and only found out after their arrival that marriage was the only opportunity for longer-term stays.
Chanthy described her own experiences upon arrival as follows: “We were put up in a house. Two days later, men came to look at us and took away some of the women. I asked my peer what was going on. She informed me that men came to pick up their wives. I was surprised since I had come here to find work. The friend told me that unless we had a husband, we would not find work.”
*not her real name
Sebastian Boll is the Regional Research Specialist at UN-ACT overseeing the project’s research and knowledge-sharing portfolio. He can be contacted at [email protected]
IOM X has launched a video campaign in Cambodia encouraging young women to seek information before making the decision to migrate.
IOM X is the International Organization for Migration's innovative campaign to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking. The campaign is produced in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
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