The human rights of migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation
More than 50 million people work as domestic workers around the world. Of these, a significant number are migrants, including migrants who are in an irregular situation. A large proportion of domestic workers are women. The work they do is invaluable. Among myriad other tasks, domestic workers iron, clean, cook, garden, drive, and take care of children and the elderly. This is necessary work, but work that often goes unnoticed, and unprotected.
Domestic workers often work for excessively long hours, with little pay, and with almost no access to social protection. Hidden away in private households, migrant domestic workers are vulnerable to several human rights violations. Many are vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence and unable to freely meet their friends and associates or practice their religion. Migrant domestic workers are disproportionately exposed to abuse compared to nationals in the same sector and face specific disadvantages due to being non-nationals, including having to depend on recruitment agencies, lack of reliable information on migration procedures, limited freedom to change employers, contract substitution, the retention of travel and identity documents, inadequate housing and living conditions, lack of access to healthcare, as well as lack of access to justice and to effective redress mechanisms. Their vulnerability is exacerbated when they are in an irregular migration status.
The Global Action Programme on Migrant Domestic Workers and their Families seeks to promote the human and labour rights of migrant domestic workers worldwide by addressing the challenges that make migrant domestic workers particularly vulnerable to the risks of exploitation and abuse. The project is implemented by the ILO in collaboration with OHCHR, UN Women, the International Domestic Workers Federation, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Confederation of Indonesia Prosperity Trade Union. E | F | S
OHCHR’s collaboration in this project focuses on migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation.
Global seminar on the human rights of migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation, Bangkok, 28-29 September 2015
Publication: Behind Closed Doors: Protecting and Promoting the Human Rights of Migrant Domestic Workers in an Irregular Situation
Short documentary film: I Am Not Here