Migrant domestic workers: from Burma to Thailand

Sureeporn Punpuing, Mahidol University

Millions of people from Burma4 have migrated into neighboring countries over the past decade. Most have left their country in search of security and safety as a direct result of internal conflict and militarization, severe economic hardship and minority persecution. This exodus represents one of the largest migration flows in Southeast Asia. Fearing persecution, the vast majority of those migrating from Burma find themselves desperate to survive, obtaining work in underground and, often, illegal labour markets. The majority of those fleeing Burma migrate to neighbouring Thailand, where an estimated two million people from Burma work in “3-D jobs” (dangerous, dirty and difficult). Although there is a growing awareness of their isolation and vulnerability to labour exploitation and violence, there is little data available documenting their realities. This results in the alienation of domestic workers and perpetuates the disregard for their labour and basic rights.

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Presented in Session 92: Irregular migration: measurement, determinants, consequences and policy implications