iLocal News Archives

What can be done for workers in homes?

By Joanna Ewart-James, Freedom United

Last week, the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Ms. Urmila Bhoola, released a shocking report[1] on the plight of potentially millions of marginalized migrant women who are domestic workers around the world, too often undervalued and abused.[2] Behind closed doors, domestic workers are at risk of being exploited by their employers, at worst kept in domestic servitude, often with no legal framework to protect them. It’s time for every country to take a stand!

Call on your country to ratify Convention 189 to protect domestic workers.

Twenty-five countries have already committed to the ILO’s Convention 189 which sets an international standard protecting domestic workers from exploitation, abuse and violence. Add your name to call on your country to be next to ratify, or share this campaign on Facebook or Twitter if they have already stepped up.

Of the 70 million domestic workers employed worldwide today, 49.2 million are women and 11.5 million are migrant women,[3] who leave their villages, towns and cities every day to find decent work in countries like ours. They may be escaping domestic violence, forced marriage, poverty and conflict or simply searching for the opportunity to earn a better standard of living for themselves and their families – join us in calling for the safety standards they deserve.

In her speech[4] to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ms. Urmila Bhoola said:

“I urge States to increase their efforts in addressing and preventing domestic servitude, as it constitutes an abysmal and degrading human rights abuse. To this end, States need to do better in identifying victims of servitude by taking into consideration that migrants in vulnerable situations are always at a high risk of falling prey to traffickers and of becoming victims of contemporary forms of trafficking.”[5]

Once in a private household, isolated from support networks, it’s easy for migrant domestic workers to become invisible with no voice to speak out about their exploitation and injustice. These women deserve protection under the law and respect from societies so that their work is valued and not taken for granted.

We are inspired by stories like the Filipino migrant workers and activists who challenged a Kuwaiti blogger’s tirade on domestic workers last month,[6] but more needs to be done by those in power to fully protect migrant domestic workers under the law.

Could your country be next? Sign to urge your national government to ratify Convention 189 and put an end to domestic slavery.

Joanna Ewart-James
Executive Director, Freedom United

To sign petition go to:


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *