Determined to augment their parents’ income, Anna and Marie (not their real names) flew to Malaysia to work as food servers. They were easily convinced upon learning that they can earn Php 12,000, which means a lot for their family struggling to make both ends meet. But things did not happen as expected. They were sold and forced to work as domestic helpers without getting any pay for several months.
Born to a poor family in Zamboanga City, Anna and Marie did not hesitate working overseas to somehow provide for the needs of the family. Their mother works as a security guard and their father as a tricycle driver. Their combined earnings were not enough to support a family of seven. Anna and Marie were both unemployed when the recruiter offered a job in Malaysia. The recruiter did not ask for deployment fees, tempting the two to immediately grab the offer.
They agreed to accept the offer, with the permission of their mother, keeping in mind the education of their younger siblings. They entered Malaysia without passports and employment contracts since the recruiter promised to arrange their papers upon their arrival to their destination.
Boarding a boat from Zamboanga, Anna and Marie reached Sandakan in Malaysia. The recruiter brought them to the employers. One of them transferred from one employer to another and was even sexually abused by the employer. Their employers told them they need to work for a year without pay since their salaries were given to the recruiter already. After working for nine months without pay, they managed to escape and go home.
The story of the two sisters is not an isolated one. Anna and Marie were just two among the 2.5 million people around the world stuck in forced labour situation as a result of trafficking.
Fortunately, the recruiters of Anna and Marie were convicted for violating Republic Act No. 9208 or the Philippine Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and Republic Act No. 8042 Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. On 8 February 2011, a trial court in Zamboanga City has imposed a penalty of 28 years of imprisonment and a fine of Php 1.25 million against the accused, making it the first ever conviction on trafficking for forced labour in the country.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) condemns trafficking and forced labour, and sees the importance of addressing the issue through respect for labour standards, reducing vulnerabilities and tackling recruitment malpractices. In June 2011, the International Labour Conference in Geneva will discuss for approval the proposed Convention concerning domestic workers. The ILO Country Office for the Philippines also supports the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT) in crafting guidelines that will clarify the labour exploitation outcomes of trafficking and provide guidance in investigating and prosecuting such cases.
For further information please contact:
Mr Robert Larga
National Project Coordinator
ILO-EC Economic and Social Empowerment of Migrants
including Victims of Trafficking returned from the EU countries
ILO Country Office for the Philippines
Tel: + 63 2 580 9903 / 580 9900