Sunday, January 13, 2013

Domestic Workers Deserve Protection

Last week, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released their first ever Global Report on Domestic Workers as follow up to their 2011 passage of Convention no. 189: Decent Work for Domestic Workers.  Upon reading the report, I immediately thought about Global Rights’ work in Brazil, and how Convention no.189 is critical to protecting more women from violence.

Global Rights' and AMNB's report on the
situation of Afro-Brazilian domestic workers
The ILO report captures the size of the global domestic work sector and the extent of legal protection enjoyed by domestic workers. The report concludes that domestic workers are a highly feminized sector (with more than 80% women) who remain largely excluded from the scope of labor laws and hence from legal protection enjoyed by other workers.

Coincidentally, this year, Global Rights and our partner, Articulação de Mulheres Negras do Brasil (AMNB), published a report on the situation of Afro-Brazilian domestic workers. 

We found that the majority of domestic workers in Brazil are of African descent (70%) and suffer from numerous human rights violations. They are at greater risk of violence—including physical, mental and sexual violence. Notably, less than 1/4 of these domestic workers have  legal contracts with benefits.

In February 2012, Global Rights and AMNB presented a shadow report on the situation of Afro-Brazilian women to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We highlighted the issue of discrimination, especially that suffered by those working as domestic labor. It was at that same session that CEDAW recommended to the Government of Brazil to ratify Convention no. 189 in order to provide full protection for domestic workers.  However, the Government of Brazil has yet to act.

We strongly encourage the Government of Brazil to ratify this convention. By doing so, they will grant their citizens who are employed as domestic workers the legal protections from human rights violations that they deserve. This would be an important step forward not only for the Afro-Brazilian population, but for all domestic workers in Brazil.


Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth

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