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Eliminating Violence against Women Migrant Workers

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all individuals are entitled to life, respect and dignity regardless of their race, sex, color, religion or country of origin. [1] In 2013, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 150 million of the world’s 232 million migrants are workers, meaning that almost two thirds of all migrants are workers. [2]

These migrant workers sometimes live in conditions of servitude. [3] Many of them face discrimination, humiliation and exposure to physical and verbal violence. These kinds of atrocities are prohibited under International Human Rights law.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the “orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies." [4] This objective is all the more important for women migrant workers, who are especially vulnerable to humiliation, discrimination and violence, including sexual violence. [5]

To reduce and eventually eliminate violence against women migrant workers, state members of the international community should commit to and implement the following goals, both on the domestic and the international levels:

I – To protect, respect and fulfill the rights and dignity of women migrant workers by raising awareness of the importance of upholding human rights and prohibiting human rights violations against women migrant workers through channels such as the media, public education, the judicial system, and private and public labor markets and employers. This may involve promoting information about the affirmative duty of employers to respect and uphold human rights, refrain from violence and protect women migrant workers from violence through due diligence.

II – To implement protective measures through domestic legislation that criminalizes violence against migrant workers in general and against women migrant workers in particular.

These measures aim to deter potential violators and employers while providing a remedy and compensation to the victims of such heinous acts. Moreover, these laws should comply with the principles of equality and nondiscrimination of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). [6]

III – To ensure that public and private employers in each state comply with human rights standards in the workplace. To this end, states could ratify human rights conventions and treaties that allow individual complaints to international tribunals or pressure the public and private labor sectors to openly endorse the Ruggie Principles - Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. [7] States could also encourage businesses to develop internal hearing and remedy mechanisms.

While all these measures aim to prevent violence against women migrant workers and create safe and inclusive workplaces, they could also foster sustainable economic growth and human development for all countries, whether they are the migrants' countries of origin, transit or destination. [8]

This post is a student blog post and in no way represents the views of the Fordham International Law Journal.