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Rights of migrant workers raised at women's summit

2017/08/11 18:20

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) The rights of migrant workers was among the issues raised Friday at the 2017 Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) Women's Caucus Conference, an international women's summit being held in Taiwan for the first time.

The two-day summit, organized by CALD and Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), covers topics such as gender awareness and violence in Asia, women's empowerment in the media, civil society, business and government, as well as the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

In a question-and-answer session at a panel discussion, Emily Lau (劉慧卿), a prominent liberal politician in Hong Kong, raised the issue of foreign domestic workers, noting that many of these workers in Asia and elsewhere have been deprived of their human rights.

"Most of them are women. Some do not have a legal day off, and some have to work for a very long time in their homes. Some do not have enough food to eat and are beaten up," Lau said.

"I think you will agree with me that the hallmark of a civilized society is how we treat the most underprivileged," said the former chairwoman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party.

In response, Josephine Sato, a Filipina congresswoman and one of the panelists, said the Philippines has laws protecting the rights of its workers, so the problem for the Philippines is not how to protect Filipina domestic helpers in the Philippines, but those working overseas.

DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), another of the panelists, acknowledged that there are still cases of abuse against migrant workers in Taiwan, but said the situation has improved from 20 years ago, when many migrant workers felt isolated in Taiwan because they were not connected to a community and did not have access to information or channels for seeking help.

The introduction of mobile phones and apps has enabled community- building among many migrant workers, Hsiao said.

"The contributions of migrant workers in Taiwan are very important. We really look at migrant workers with tremendous gratitude because they have contributed to our economy," she said. "They support Taiwanese in a lot of areas where we do not have enough manpower," she noted.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) were among those who attended the summit that day.

Established in Bangkok in 1993, CALD is a regional organization whose members include liberal and democratic political parties across Asia, including Taiwan's DPP, Thailand's Democrat Party, the Philippines' Liberal Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

(By Christie Chen)Enditem/J