Myanmar pledges to provide legal protection for domestic workers abroad

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population of Myanmar has pledged to legalize the status of Myanmar housemaids working abroad without proper documentation in order to provide them with legal protection, The Irrawaddy Online reported on Thursday (Aug 10).

Minister U Thein Swe acknowledged that traffickers and agents have been sending female domestic workers to foreign countries illegally since his ministry has ceased to provide such work documentation since 2014.

Because of language barriers and very few chances to communicate with other organizations outside of their employers’ houses, he said the housemaids were unable to get the legal rights of the host countries.

The minister also acknowledged the need for a separate law dedicated to preventing and tackling abuse, exploitation and debt bondage carried out by employers against housemaids.  

He admitted that there are limitations in trying to collect information about such workers and to investigate allegations of violations by employers due to the nature of domestic work.

According to the ministry, there are about 40,000 Myanmar domestic workers in Singapore.

On June 16, 2011, the International Labour Organization adopted a landmark treaty, the Convention of Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which laid out the rights of domestic workers.