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Philippines ratifies domestic workers' rights treaty

Human Rights Watch applauds landmark signing

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • August 7, 2012
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The Philippines yesterday became the second country in the world to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention, which sets the first global standards for domestic workers who number an estimated 50 to 100 million.

The Domestic Workers Convention includes specific provisions for the protection of migrant domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. As well as bringing in detailed requirements for regulating private employment agencies and investigating grievances, it outlaws the practice of deducting from domestic workers’ salaries to pay recruitment fees.

The Philippine Senate enshrined the treaty in law yesterday after President Benigno Aquino signed it on May 18.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) lauded the decision, saying in a statement that "basic labor rights for domestic workers are finally becoming a reality."

The statement further estimated that the Philippines has approximately two million domestic workers at home and millions more abroad. Remittances from Filipino migrant domestic workers constitute a significant source of the country’s foreign exchange. Filipinos working abroad send home over US$20 billion per year.

HRW, however, has documented abuses against Filipino migrant domestic workers in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, including beatings, confiscation of passports, confinement to the home, long working hours and in some cases, months or years of unpaid wages.

"The Philippines’ leadership in ratifying the convention sets an important example for other countries," said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at HRW.

The treaty’s was first ratified by Uruguay on April 30.

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