Meeting statement for may day – Support ILO convention, “Ending violence and harassment in the world of work”

IDWF Affiliates got together on the Eve of May Day 2019 and take Petition to Asian governments to demand for support of an International Labour Convention “Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work!!”


IDWF Regional Planning Meeting –
Zero Tolerance on Gender Based Violence for Domestic Worker
in the World of Work
27-29 April 2019, Palazzo Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Meeting Statement for May Day

This Statement is also available in Khmer


We are the participants to the IDWF Asia Regional Meeting – Zero Tolerance on Gender-Based Violence for Domestic Worker in the World of Work held on 27th to 29th April 2019 at Palazzo Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, representing domestic workers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Nepal, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. With the occasion of May Day, we call for governments in Asia to respond to the situation of Gender-based Violence (GBV) faced by domestic workers and take actions.

Globally one out of three women has experienced some form of physical and or sexual harassment in her lifetime (WHO estimates). Domestic workers are the most vulnerable as they are the majority of women from more deprived communities working in employers’ households. We have heard enough stories of abuses. Adelina Sao, an Indonesian migrant domestic worker, died as a result of severe torture by her employer in Malaysia. Sabina Khatun, a minor domestic worker in India, was raped by her employer’s son and family driver and found dead. The perpetrators of both cases are still walking free!

Adelina and Sabina are just a few among many others who suffer from violence and harassment. The IDWF survey on gender-based violence (GBV) among our affiliates in Asia in 2018 revealed that domestic workers face a significant risk of violence and harassment in the household where they are working, in different types and level. The most common abuse faced by domestic workers is financial/economic abuses including underpaid and excessive agency fees especially for those who are migrants. The other forms of abuses are physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual violence and harassments. These abuses bring devastating impact on domestic workers and their families’ life. However, very often, they are scared to report sexual harassment and abuses.

Furthermore, domestic violence brings a detrimental impact on the life and work of workers. The situation of domestic violence often leaves domestic workers with additional financial and psychological burden yet they are not provided with adequate support.

GBV faced by domestic worker sector is widely perpetuated and normalised because domestic work is unrecognised and undervalued, despite their immense contribution to the economy and social reproduction. They are systematically discriminated and excluded from fundamental labour rights. They face multiple layers of discrimination based on gender, race, colour, social status, religions, creed, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, family status, age and caste.

Domestic workers need immediate protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence (as stated in ILO Convention 189, article 3,4,5 and 11), including GBV. We believe that gender equality and justice, leaving no one behind from decent work, are basics of social development and sustainability.

Therefore, we call upon the governments in Asia to:

  1. Support an ILO’s international convention, “Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work”, supplemented by a recommendation at the upcoming ILO conference in June.
  2. Ratify ILO Convention 189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Recognise domestic workers as workers in all laws and policies. The inclusion of domestic workers in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in India is an example of such inclusion.
  3. Uphold and realise all human rights principles and conventions, and the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) principle #5 on gender equality, and #8 on decent work.
  4. Establish laws and policies to protect victims of domestic violence.
  5. Ensure enforcement and monitoring of related laws and policies

International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)
National Domestic Women Workers Union (NDWWU), Bangladesh
Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN), Cambodia
Association of Domestic Workers (ADW), Cambodia
Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU), Hong Kong
National Network for Advocacy for Domestic Workers (Jala PRT), Indonesia
National Domestic Workers Federation (NDWF), India
National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM), India
Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India
National House Managers Cooperatives (NHMC), South Korea
Home Workers Trade Union of Nepal (HUN), Nepal
Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas (AMMPO), Malaysia
United Domestic Workers of the Philippines (UNITED), Philippines
Network of Domestic Workers in Thailand (NDWT), Thailand

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