Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Independent Expert on international solidarity
Speaker name: Sanila Gurung
Thank you, Mr. President,
I am making this statement on behalf of the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).
We appreciate the report of the special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and its analysis of sexual and reproductive health needs of migrant women workers. Indeed vulnerabilities are severe and acute among women migrants in unsupervised and unregulated sectors such as domestic work and informal sectors . Low-skilled migrant women workers are reduced to asexual beings in contractual labour agreements. Female migrants have to undergo pregnancy tests in many host countries, and if found pregnant before departure, they are excluded from the programme. If pregnancy occurs during their stay, they are repatriated. When they manage to remain in the country and join the many undocumented workers, their children may not be recognised by both their country of origin and their destination country, and are at risk of becoming stateless. Further, there is the imposition of mandatory HIV and sexually transmitted infections by many host states in Southeast Asia which is a gross violation of their rights to privacy and bodily integrity. Multiple personal, socio-cultural and structural factors hinder migrant women’s access to SRHR services. Attitudes of employers, fear of deportation, concern over medical cost , and the overall inaccessibility and unawareness about available services and information play a vital role in the prevention of female migrant workers seeking out and accessing SRHR services, if present at all.
A fundamental shift is needed to reinstate migrant women workers’ agency and fulfillment of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We urge States to review punitive policies and repeal compulsory testing and deportation of women migrant workers on account of pregnancy and HIV status.
We also call on states to ensure sustainable pre-departure, in-transition and post-arrival programmes that protect, respect and fulfill the SRHR of all women migrant workers.
Lastly, States need to commit to increase and improve data generation on SRHR issues of women, and young migrant workers, as evidence and basis in the development of relevant and appropriate SRHR policies and programmes in the destination countries.