Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Name change doesn't make domestic work abroad safe: groups

Name change doesn't make domestic work abroad safe: groups

Name change doesn't make domestic work abroad safe: groups

Rights organisations say a shift in employee titles for domestic workers in Malaysia won't of itself reduce exploitation of women in these roles.

WOMEN's rights and anti-trafficking groups have expressed concern that a change in legal title of laboUrers working abroad is superficial, and does nothing to improve their rights as vulnerable half-citizens.

According to the Cambodian government, the Malaysian government now legally refers to domestic workers as "house assistants" rather than the more derogatory terms "maid", "servant" or even "domestic worker".

Lim Mony, the women's program officer for local human rights group Adhoc, said the change - done in the interest of boosting legal recognition of the workers - is merely cosmetic.

"The name is not important. What is important is to stop the violation of the rights of laboUrers both in and out of the country," she said.

"The government and the Ministry of Labour need to pay more attention to controlling and checking companies that are exporting these labourers to domestic homes overseas and to think carefully about their rights and the law," she added.

Oum Mean, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said that he was pleased with the name change but would wait and see whether it prompted any real change in attitudes.  

"We recognise that previously Cambodian workers were discriminated and had their rights abused, including being raped or verbally abused by house owners," he said.

"So I support the name change, as it provides more rights to workers, but we will wait and see," he added.

Ya Navuth, executive director of human trafficking NGO Coordination of Action Research on Aids and Mobility (CARAM), told the Post that there are currently about 10,000 Cambodians working in Malaysia as domestic workers, making it the most common destination for labour exporting.

"Changing the title is of no importance. What is important is their working conditions and whether they resemble the contract or not," he said. 

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia’s image problem

    In opening remarks at a recent event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luy David said information can be a double-edged sword. He told a European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS) briefing seminar that the media has unfairly presented

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Kingdom's trade deal with EU questioned before poll

    A European Union (EU) mission met with senior government officials at the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday as the 28-member bloc monitors an agreement under which Cambodian goods reach the crucial European market tariff-free. Some 10 commissioners are in the Kingdom as part of a seven-day

  • A new carrier takes off in capital

    Cambodia Airways, the latest passenger airline to enter the Kingdom, launched its first domestic flight on Tuesday. Flight KR801, carrying 145 passengers, left the Phnom Penh International Airport at 9:50am and landed in Siem Reap at 10:35am in an Airbus A319. Cambodia Airways marketing and branding