UN report focuses on hazards faced by women migrants

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) Looking beyond statistics of 191 million migrants worldwide, a new UN report highlights the benefits of global movement of people while focusing on its dark side – scourge of human trafficking and exploitation of female domestic workers.
Though women constitute half of the migrants, yet it was only recently that policymakers acknowledged the hazards they could face, said the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report ‘The State of World Population 2006’ released Wednesday.
Brought out ahead of a special UN General Assembly session Sep 13-15 on migration and development, the report stressed that migration could be a win-win situation, but only if women’s rights, health and needs are addressed.
‘Every year millions of women working overseas send millions of dollars in remittances back to their homes and communities,’ said Ena Singh, UNFPA assistant representative in India at the release of the report, which for the first time was accompanied by a youth supplement giving case history of migrants or the families left behind.
‘For a long time, the issue of women migrants has been low on the international policy agenda. For the first time government representatives from around the globe will be attending a UN session devoted to migration,’ said Singh.
Globally, the migrant workers remit around $232 billion to their country of origin of which $167 billion is received by developing countries.
Despite a dearth of reliable global data, country specific studies reveal how critical is the contribution of female remittances.
‘While women tend to send less overall than men, studies reveal that they send a higher proportion of their more meagre earnings to their families back home,’ the report said.
While for many women, migration opens doors to a new world of greater equality and relief from oppression, the report stressed that on the contrary millions of female workers face hazards from ‘modern-day enslavement of trafficking victims to exploitation of domestic workers’.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that around 2.45 million trafficking victims are currently toiling in exploitative conditions worldwide. An estimated 600,000-800,000 women, men and children are trafficked across international borders every year.
Of these 80 percent are women and girls, the report said.
‘Human trafficking now constitutes the third most lucrative illicit trade after drugs and arms smuggling and nets an estimated $7-12 billion annually. These numbers however reflect only profits from initial sale of persons.’
The ILO estimates that once victims are in the destination country, criminal syndicates rake in an additional $32 billion a year – half generated in industrialised nations and a third in Asia.
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service

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