Criminalisation of migration for domestic work from Myanmar to Singapore – need for a radical policy shift

Deshingkar, Priya (2021) Criminalisation of migration for domestic work from Myanmar to Singapore – need for a radical policy shift. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. ISSN 0928-1371

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Between 2014 and April 2019, the government of Myanmar banned international migration for domestic work to Singapore and criminalised the brokering of such migration as well as predeparture training and placement of migrants as domestic workers in Singapore. These measures were taken in response to concerns over the alleged abuse of migrant women as well as international pressures to eliminate trafficking and debt-bondage. Experienced brokers and recruitment agencies who were trading openly up until then, were forced to cease operations. At the same time large numbers of inexperienced and uncouth recruitment agencies emerged to take advantage of the black economy created by the ban. This resulted in women migrating irregularly from Myanmar to Singapore being exposed to greater risks which the paper traces. Four discernible impacts of the ban on the recruitment practices and working conditions faced by migrant women from Myanmar before departure and after arriving in Singapore were identified: a sharp increase in migration and placement costs; inadequate predeparture training; placement in forced labour conditions with extended and unclear repayment periods and, no access to support from the Myanmar government while in Singapore. Although the ban has since been lifted, the resulting migration system had placed workers in conditions of extreme exploitation with little recourse to justice or having their voices heard. The paper ends by summarising the unanticipated negative consequences of the criminalisation of migration brokerage in Myanmar and lessons for other countries that may be considering controls on female migration.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: criminalisation, human trafficking, migration brokerage, debt-bondage, forced labour
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 09:00
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 17:11

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