Migrant workers are in a unique, but difficult position. They are expected to adhere to the cultural norms, practices and values of their state origin, even as they are ensconced in the realities of their adopted environment. Straddling a transnational existence also means simultaneously maintaining social, emotional and sexual relations in both locations. We recognize that this has implications on their sexual and reproductive health and implies the necessity for them to navigate the boundaries of a temporary existence and remote location vis-à-vis their bodily desires, behavioural intentions and subsequent actions.
We have made significant inter-movement linkages with the migration movement including through the inclusion of the agenda in the ‘Beyond ICPD & the MDGs’ meeting and subsequent publications of the ARROW for Change bulletin and the working paper on the inter-linkages of labour migration, gender, and SRHR. In 2010, out of 214 million people globally, there were approximately 27.5 million international migrants in Asia, and 6 million international migrants in the Pacific; almost half of both these figures constituted women.
Cross-region migration affects people in diverse ways through alienation from families and difficult living circumstances. Women’s rights and health are further affected with restrictions on mobility, wrongful confiscation of identity documents, screenings for pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections including HIV, oftentimes against their knowledge or will. Their access to public health services is further restricted with language barriers, higher costs of health services, increasing privatisation of healthcare and lack of insurance coverage. Such limitations make it difficult to achieve universal health coverage for all, let alone sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.