Southeast Asia is certainly a region on the move. Internal and international migration flows are a key feature in this geographical setting. On the one hand, Southeast Asia is home of important work-related migration flows to other countries in the region which are demanding labour but also to international immigration areas, such as North America, the European Union and the Persian Gulf. On the other hand, Southeast Asia also attracts immigration, mostly intraregional. Intraregional migration is usually temporary and irregular, which has meant a major challenge for governments to manage migration in their territories.
In addition to the countries of origin and destination, some Asian ...view middle of the document...
These flows have been characterised by their feminisation since the 1970s meaning that the traditionally male-dominated labour migration context has changed. This situation has brought to surface new issues affecting women due to their vulnerability, as for example trafficking.
It is reported that the destination of migrant workers has changed. In the late 1970s, the Middle East, especially the Gulf states, was the main destination. However, from the 1990s the amount of migrant workers migrating to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia has increased (Kull, personal communication, March 4, 2014). A new trend has also been noted, namely for migrants to stay longer than before in the recipient countries. The rapid increase in the number of migrants and the diversity of countries of origin make it difficult to implement policies, which leads to the migrants vulnerability. The different jobs carried out by the migrants categorise them in different groups.
First, domestic work can be highlighted as the most critical type in relation to the feminisation of migration. This is proved by statistics from 2000 to 2003, which shows that 65% of the Filipino migrants were women, while in Indonesia the percentage was 79%. Asia is the continent with the highest number of migrant women "exports" for domestic work. Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka are the main countries of origin of these women. While it is true that many of them are low-skilled workers, the fact is that even when they are qualified, as with many Filipino university-educated, their occupations are still associated with domestic care. Women working in the domestic sphere are more vulnerable as they are normally isolated in private homes and excluded from Employment Acts. As Resurreccion explains (in Devasahayam, 2009, p. 38) "they have very little and arbitrary labour rights, and often depend on the goodwill of their employers".
The professional care and welfare sector is increasingly important for female migration in the transnational sphere. Resurreccion (ibid) notes that the Philippines is currently supplying the majority of nurses working in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Data from 2008 shows that around 3000 Filipino teachers have also joined English teaching programmes in Thai schools.
Those belonging to the professional care and welfare sector enjoy better working conditions than domestic workers or those working for the entertainment and sex industry. In the case of sex workers, the situation is specially critical when it comes to vulnerability. Resurreccion (in Devasahayam, 2009, p. 41) notes that they are subject to exploitation and extortion. These groups face what Ball and Piper (2006, p. 219) define as 'structural vulnerability' meaning that these migrants are not citizens in the host country which denies them in many cases the right to claim for legal, economic or social protection. Is resilience...