19 September 2012

Academics vs. Practitioners: A Partnership w/Dr. Monti Datta

In the past few weeks, Chab Dai has hosted quite a few artistic, highly skilled, and extremely insightful volunteers and collaborators. We are eager to see how partnerships and projects will grow in the future. One specific partner we are most excited to work with is Dr. Monti Datta, PhD. Assistant Professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Richmond.

After studying human rights for his undergrad, Monti went abroad to see the world. While teaching in Korea and Japan, he noticed two things: first, a strong anti-American sentiment and second, a strong presence of the sex trade. He became more passionate about this issue of human trafficking after realizing just how lucrative of a business it had been for groups like the Japanese mafia.

Last October, when Dr. Kevin Bales visited the University of Richmond to speak about bonded labor, Dr. Datta heard of the need for someone in the university setting to collect factual statistics from  practitioners on the field. To those not in the field of human trafficking this may seem an easy task, however there has been a historical tug of war between academics and practitioners. Academics have long debated whether statistics used by nonprofits and other practitioners have come from factual or rather emotional foundations. And yet here was this well versed academic, Dr. Bales, talking about how important it is to have solid facts and getting them straight from the source. While attending the Human Trafficking Conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last October, Dr. Datta saw the tension between the academics and the practitioners once again. Only this time he decided to become a catalyst for change, and sought out Helen Sworn, founder and director of Chab Dai. Mrs. Sworn was immediately drawn to the idea of doing a practitioner-academic partnership. She knew this could be a chance to build bridges rather then break them down.

The rest is history. Dr. Datta has just finished up working at Chab Dai's Cambodia office interpreting and helping analyze qualitative and empirical work from our Butterfly Project. I'm certain the findings he has gathered over the course of his time in Cambodia will also encourage his next round of students to find their own data, directly from the source and to give credit to both practitioners and academics for the hard work that they do.

To learn more about Dr. Monti Datta, check out his personal website.

23 August 2012

Addressing the Needs of Domestic Workers in Malaysia

Photo courtesy of Tenaganita, an NGO addressing exploitation in Malaysia.

As you may remember (from a few months ago), Chab Dai’s office building was formerly a recruitment agency for sending domestic workers to Malaysia.  Now Chab Dai is working to bring them back home.  The past few months have brought about exciting partnerships.  I recently sat down with Ms. Tho Narann (Chab Dai's Malaysia Cross-Border Case Officer), to discuss Chab Dai's brand new pilot project and partnership with the Coalition to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery in Asia {CAMSA Malaysia}.

The conversation between Chab Dai and several human rights and anti-trafficking partner organizations in Malaysia began last year, where the need was strongly expressed for an English-Khmer interpreter to assist Cambodian migrant workers who were experiencing abuse and filing cases in Malaysia.  (You can read about that here). Coordination and further discussions lead to the development of this collaborative-based, case coordination project between Cambodian & Malaysian partner.

“The main goal of the project is to improve the case coordination and tangibly provide a cross-border referral mechanism between Malaysia & Cambodia,” says Narann.   Due in part to language barriers and a complex legal system Cambodian domestic workers who experience exploitation in Malaysia are often labeled and treated as illegal workers, rather than identified as victims of human trafficking.  Though potentially exploited and experiencing physical and psychological abuse, migrant workers may be picked up by police and placed in government shelters or worse, deported.  Without a clear ability to understand the full story from the client, cases sometimes become stagnant.  Narann's role is to support cases of Cambodian migrant workers through Khmer/ English interpretation and assist in referring cases between Cambodian & Malaysian organizations, including repatriation and reintegration support when they return home. As a case officer she is actively building relationships with migrant workers, the Cambodian embassy, Malaysian labour officers, and NGO partners.  Cases can be handled efficiently and properly when the full story is communicated and understood.

Best case scenario, says Narann is to “get the women home and get their compensation from their employer.”  The hope remains for Chab Dai that this project will continue to advocate for Cambodian migrants workers in Malaysia and that further cross-border collaboration will result in sustainable justice and restoration. 

*To see more about Chab Dai and CAMSA, follow our updates on Facebook here and here.

07 August 2012

New Referral Directory Hits Cambodia!

My love of maps started at a young age.  It probably began on the long road trips my dad planned each summer for our family vacations through the desert. I remember sitting next to him holding a huge folded map and ticking off each tiny town we passed and reading every street sign we wizzed past so I could calculate exactly where we were on the map and what was close to us... Fast forward to today... it's like clockwork, now the first thing I do every time I step off a plane is find one of those helpful kiosk-things in the airport with all the travel info- you know them- the cheesy tourist hotspot brochures, travel agent advertisements, and most importantly the city maps!

To me a map is like a key to unlocking a country (aka. an adventure). It helps us make informed decisions - like when we can walk or if it's best to take a taxi; what all our options are for places to visit; or where the closest food stall is to our hotel.

One of my very favorite things at Chab Dai is when the need arises to map or organize information into directories or big picture diagrams, like trends in human trafficking, migration patterns, and what/ where services are available.

The latter, what and where services existed across Cambodia (specifically for returned migrants and reintegrated survivors of trafficking back to their communities), especially outside of Phnom Penh, was a mapping need expressed earlier this year. The number of Cambodian migrant workers looking for jobs in bordering countries continues to increase steadily and there are an ongoing initiatives for survivors of trafficking to be reintegrated into the community. In response, service providers, social workers, and border officials in Cambodia and in the destination countries wanted a guide to what services exist for referrals, and where.

Of course I jumped on board to help!

In collaboration with many partners, including the Royal Government of Cambodia, the National Committee on the Suppression of Human Trafficking, the International Labour Organization (ILO), together we developed a comprehensive directory of government and civil society services divided by the regions and provinces of Cambodia, and 5 key service categories:

  1. Coordination and Networking
  2. Recovery and Psychological Support Services
  3. Legal Assistance
  4. Medical Services
  5. Skills Training & Job Placement

So, I'm very pleased to announce that the Referral Directory of Services for Returned Migrants & Reintegrated Survivors of Trafficking: Cambodia 2012 is finished! It has already reached Thailand and Malaysia service providers, and will continue to be disseminated in Cambodia in the upcoming weeks. If you're a service provider I hope this will be a helpful tool for referrals or partnerships. And if you're someone thinking about starting a project or ministry in Cambodia I hope you will take time to review this directory and let it guide you to start strategically.

You can find a soft-copy of the directory in both English and Khmer here. If you want a hard-copy send me an email [aimee.brammer@chabdai.org] or tweet [@aimee_chabdai] with the number of directories you'd like and how you're planning to use them. We'll try to meet your requests as is possible!

25 June 2012

Invest in a Childsafe Holiday

Summer is the best time to jet out of town for a few days or weeks. The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and you've got those few vacation days saved up. If you are planning on vacationing in Southeast Asia, you are likely to have loads of options for hotels and hostels, tuk-tuks and moto-drivers, resturants and taverns. Even though you are on holiday you can still uphold the ideals of the organizations you suport by choosing child safe options.

What do I mean by this? Well it's truly simple. All you need to do is choose lodgings, transportation, and dining options that follow the ChildSafe International guidelines. Child safe businesses are trained to look for sexual abuse in children. When a child is spotted in danger they alert the proper local authorities. Tuk-tuks and moto drivers are trained to help stop the trafficking before it can even happen by refusing to give information to travelers of places selling children for purposes of prostitution. Even internet cafe's are places where pedophiles can lure children, but Childsafe member internet cafes have trained staff to recognize such deviant behavior. To identify and support these business's in Cambodia visit: http://www.childsafe-international.org/CAMBODIA/CSCambodia.asp

Also, be aware of your surroundings and follow these tips from the Childsafe Network:
  • Though it sounds harsh avoid buying gums, cd's/dvd's, and books from children, and refrain from giving to begging children. If you do not, it tells the child this is an easy way to make money, rather then encouraging him or her to seek education or job training.
  • Purchase things instead made by parents or youth in training. Doing so supports a stable and sustainable enviornment for children. 
  • Avoid situations and attractions that lead to child exploitation, this includes visiting slums and orphanages for photo ops. It is a child's home and they too have a right to privacy.
  • Do not take a child to your hotel room for any reason. Even if you just want to give a child a safe place to sleep for the night, notify a local NGO or government official rather then running the risk of being caught as a pedophile.
  • Avoid places that tolerate prostitution (ie... bars and karaokes that allow sex workers and johns to dine or drink together) as many of these men and women in prostitution are underage. These business clearly are under the category of exploiting minors, therefore they do not need your financial support or presence.
  • Keep your eyes open. Often travelers can help local NGO's and governmental organizations by reporting situations when a child is in danger. If you see such a situation please see:  www.interpol.org or contact the local authorities immediatly.
Enjoy your Childsafe summer holiday!

10 June 2012

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

By Guest Blogger, Becky Owens Bullard

The power of an image is immeasurable, especially when it comes to promoting awareness of an issue that people don’t exactly understand.  When we want every day citizens to engage in an issue they’d rather pretend doesn’t exist, we try to pique their interest by providing a photograph or video that they can associate with the issue – an image that will be burnt in their memory and make the issue real for them. Often times, these images that we use in awareness campaigns and community education on issues of abuse are our best chance of catching someone’s attention long enough to raise awareness and promote positive social change. Unfortunately, to inform our already media-saturated public we often resort to flashy visuals that do very little to accurately portray the crimes we hope to stop.

Image found at sf-hrc.org
Example: human trafficking.  Try looking up “human trafficking” on an image search and you may see what I mean about exaggerated or inaccurate portrayals of abuse. While there are some clever images (for example,  humans with price tags representing the idea that people are still bought and sold), the photos most commonly associated with human trafficking are of people shackled or locked in a cage. Now think about the movies you’ve seen or the books that you’ve read on human trafficking.  Most have likely contained a story line about someone who was kidnapped by a large criminal operation, thrown into a brothel and “rescued” by someone from their trafficking situation. I can’t tell you how many times I spoke with individuals when I worked on the national human trafficking hotline who were outraged about human trafficking because they had just seen this type of over-the-top image or video on human trafficking.

While these images and media portrayals of human trafficking are fairly compelling and may serve to spark interest or outrage in the issue, they are also misleading. A human trafficking case where an individual is physically chained or caged is not the norm. In fact, the “chains” that keep a victim tied to a trafficker are often the things that you can’t see – fear, shame, hope and love.

So how harmful are images that portray human trafficking victims as shackled, caged and battered? While some may argue that they are just an innocuous way to grab someone’s attention, these images often promote misconceptions about the issue and make it difficult for victims and survivors to speak out about what happened to them. For example, if someone’s understanding of human trafficking is limited to images of slavery, chains and rescue missions and they sit on a jury for a human trafficking case where they hear testimony from a victim who had a cell phone or was able to go to the store alone, that person would likely think, “this isn’t human trafficking.”

And they would be wrong. Cycles of violence and various non-physical forms of abuse are extremely common in both sex and labor trafficking. The failure to clearly communicate these dynamics is damaging to the issue as a whole and is what led me to create the human trafficking power and control wheel while I worked at the national hotline to detail forms of abuse beyond physical violence that occur in trafficking situations.

Image from Identity Magazine
Example: domestic violence. Now try an image search for “domestic violence.” You will likely see images of women and children bruised and battered, being choked, silenced and slapped. Think of the movies or music videos you’ve seen about domestic violence – they are often aggressive and extremely volatile. While we’ve started to get more creative with domestic violence images and encourage people to see beyond the physical forms of abuse (see this portrayal of verbal abuse), it is still all too common that a black eye is what is associated with abuse instead of the manipulation, isolation and emotional abuse that survivors often say are the most damaging. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “it’s not like he punched me square in the face” when I worked as a domestic violence victim advocate in court. The pervasive images of fist punching and serious bodily injury is what the general public, as well as victims themselves, associate with intimate partner and familial abuse.

So how harmful are images of domestic violence centered on black eyes and bruises? Just like with human trafficking, the flashy image of physical injury may seem completely harmless and a way to get a non-interested citizen to agree that domestic violence is a bad thing. But think of that person that is now sitting on the jury for a domestic violence case. When they hear that the defendant threatened the victim and restrained her from leaving the house, but there were no visible injuries, they just might think, “doesn’t sound like domestic violence to me.”  Again, they would be very wrong.

These narrow images paint an incomplete picture of abuse, resulting in unintentional victim blaming. Understandably, the general public may have a hard time reconciling the reality of abuse with the images that they are familiar with and wonder “why didn’t s/he leave if they weren’t chained up?” or “is it really domestic violence when s/he didn’t get hit?”

What’s worse, these images may also persuade victims to minimize their own suffering and think, “I am not a victim because I wasn’t locked away” or “I can’t be a victim because I didn’t get punched in the face.”

While the anti-violence movement has to find thoughtful ways to educate the general public about crimes that affect millions of people each day, it is important to do it the right way. Even though it is necessary to be catchy and inventive to engage individuals who would rather not hear about the prevalence of violence, resorting to exaggerated or inaccurate images that perpetuate misconceptions does nothing but harm victims and survivors while miseducating those who can help us end violence.

So let’s be true to what we know about abuse in the images we use for our education and awareness efforts – that it isn’t all big black eyes and someone chained to a wall. Abuse is complex, psychologically manipulative and incredibly difficult to end without an accurate understanding of its dynamics. It’s time for the anti-violence movement to rise above the desire to be provocative and instead, refocus on our passion of empowering others to end violence by providing images that truly reflect the crimes we seek to eliminate.

Posted with permission from author. Originally posted on Voices Against Violence Project.

25 May 2012

Short-term missions...Long-term effects?

Recently Charlie and I were asked to contribute to World Vision Canada's French publication on development issues and church involvement. We were asked a number of questions on short-term missions, a subject about which we have much to say! The whole issue will soon be available (although only in French) here. We wrote our submission initially in English, so here it is!

Q: What is it like to receive short-term mission groups?  

Receiving short-term mission groups takes a lot of work on the part of the receiving organization, in terms of preparing for the group, hosting and leading the group, and often in catching up on missed work after the group has gone. There is a lot of preparation that goes into hosting a group that the traveling team is not aware of. If a host organization does not have an assigned short-term mission coordinator, which some do, other project staff will probably have to work overtime to prepare for and accommodate a visiting team.

We have heard from various field workers (both local and expat) that the groups who visit their programs often promise continued support, such as staying in touch, raising funds, or raising awareness; however, in the majority of cases, organizations never hear from these visitors again. Thus, the time spent with the visitors ends up being an investment on the part of the host organization with no long-term positive effects.

Q: What makes a successful cross-cultural experience?

A cross-cultural experience, especially if it is a first encounter with a particular culture or country, will be successful if the traveler goes with a learning spirit and an attitude of humility. When groups return from a short-term mission saying, "We met this person... We learned about this issue...," these are often the groups that have a lasting positive outlook of their experience and the culture they encountered, rather than groups who only report on what they did. Going only to do makes a team work on outcomes rather than relationships, which turns their focus inward and closes them off to discovering and learning from new experiences.

Q: What do Christian leaders need to know before planning a trip?

Before planning a trip, Christian leaders should know the answers to these two questions.  How will you ensure your trip has a lasting, meaningful effect? What are the skill sets that your group possesses, and how will you use them effectively?

The purpose of the first question is to think through why you want to go. If building a long term, lasting relationship between your community and the host community is not a top priority, this is an indicator that your trip is being dreamed up for personal reasons. If you want to share experiences with a group, and plan to encourage your team to become advocates, raise awareness or build a relationship with another community when they get back, you have the right idea, keep going.

The purpose of the second question is to make certain you are using your skills wisely. People often think that in order to do a mission trip properly, they need to build something, or that they need to manage a project. In fact, around the world there is a great need for teachers, technicians, graphic artists, and many other skills that we have and that we use on a daily basis. Finding an organization that will allow your team to use the skills they have developed over their lifetimes will help to create meaningful work for your team, will fill actual gaps for the host organization, and will help to develop deeper relationships.

Q: What are the dangers of not taking the time to plan appropriately?

A common assumption by short term mission teams, is that the first thing on their to-do list is to raise money for travel. In fact, there are many more important things to do to plan for a short-term mission trip, such as exploring team's members' reasons for going, setting goals for the trip, learning about the host country and preparing for culture shock, discussing whether a trip is really the best way to steward your funds, and, then, raising money not only for your travel costs, but also to donate to the host organization's projects.

When a group does not plan appropriately, and has not adequately thought through their goals for the trip, members of the group can lose sight of the big picture and spend much of the trip being overwhelmed by unexpected events. If the group has prepared, maintains an attitude of flexibility, and focuses more on walking alongside people, rather than going to do work for people, than even big changes in circumstances will not ruin the trip, but add to the learning experience.

22 May 2012

Spring blooms new life.

Green, a color which signifies growth, filled the room of our annual Chab Dai member meeting. I could not help but notice it was a color that suited the past two days, as our members have shown countless sprouts grounded in community and family focused care. Members from Hagar, Transitions, and Sunshine Cambodia began our conference by sharing new strategies on how to incorporate community focused care. During the process of rehabilitation, it is the right of the child to be nurtured and supported by family; this was the theme firmly planted in the past two days by all presenting organizations.

Community connections between local and governmental organizations were strengthened over sips of coffee, bites of lunch, and in small groups during the speed networking session. As the Global Learning Community has noticed, it is time we stop the duplicity of effort and work together. By sharing our experiences, we are saving time, energy, and precious resources. 

The green shoots of growth continued to present themselves as participants welcomed two new Steering Committee Members and the new medical support team, Dr. Sapna Jain & Dr. Kathrine Welch. I learned the steering Committee Members will have the responsibility of supervising overall management and operations of Chab Dai. And the medical support pilot program will commence visits to numerous rehabilitation centers in order to educate social workers on how to best advise clients during a health crisis. International directors from US and Canada offices also presented on the extension of its vast network through the Freedom Registry project. 

After two days of lectures, I am greatly encouraged by the upward growth of Chab Dai. Meeting passionate members and hearing well educated research has remind me that we are all together in this fight against trafficking. It is our community of compassionate hearts that will help shift the tide of trafficking. As the new social media intern for Chab Dai International, it will be my pleasure to update you on exactly how that growth progresses. I, Nikki, hope to meet you all in the months to come, until then if you have any questions, I am only an email away: communications@chabdai.org 

19 March 2012

Top 5 reasons you should sign up for Freedom Registry NOW!

five- This is quite literally the first project of its kind.  It is new, innovative, essential and it has huge potential.  Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?

four-  Though we all know of amazing organizations doing great work, there are gaps.  And these gaps need our attention.  Freedom Registry brings these gaps to light.  After all, we are all working towards the same goal and we need to make sure we are doing so in the best way possible.

three- Freedom Registry goes public in one week.  That means there is still time for you to get your organization on the list before everyone has access. It is free and really simple to sign up.

two-  Signing up for Freedom Registry is a way for you to show the public that your organization is using the best possible practices.  Through the verification process, donors, volunteers, and stakeholders can trust that organizations on the Freedom Registry are using the best practices.

one- collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.  Babe Ruth said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.” We need to make sure we are working as a TEAM to fight trafficking and CSE.  Join us on that team!

08 March 2012

Celebrating the Architects of Society

Women are the real architects of society. Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 1910, over 100 women delegates from 17 countries came together in Copenhagen for the second International Conference of Working Women. Here, Women's Activist Clara Zetkin is known to have proposed the idea for an annual International Women's Day. The following year, meetings and rallies were held across Europe where more than 1 million men and women called for an end to discrimination against women. International Women's Day has been held annually ever since, and was officially commemorated by the UN beginning in 1975.

To commemorate this special day today, I took some time out of my busy schedule to ponder the efforts and achievements of three women who inspire me. While my list can in no way represent all the women who inspire me (whether directly or indirectly), taking the time to appreciate the work of even a select few - chosen in a very impromptu, unsystematic fashion - each of these women, each representing a different period in history since 1911, motivates me to keep going - even on those days when things seem dire and/or hopeless ::

Story :: (1897-1980) Born in Brooklyn, Day was an American journalist who, in her efforts to found a newspaper, ended up founding an entire movement. For its first 6 months, Day's publication - The Catholic Worker - was a publication expressing dissatisfaction with the social order. Often attributed to its immediate success is that the publication was both radical and religious. The article authors didn't just complain, but called their readers to direct action. Articles called for the renewal of Christian hospitality, especially toward the homeless; and over time, the convictions of both Day and readers alike resulted in the development of "homes of hospitality" where the homeless population could receive food and shelter. Day is also known for her pacifist stance on war.

Why she inspires me :: In comparison to what may be considered "mainstream expectations"of your average religious worker,  Dorothy Day was a person of contradiction. She was theologically conservative and politically radical at the same time. Day put her deep faith and conviction in God into direct action, even in times of opposition from other believers. Day was also extremely honest about her own depravity. In her autobiography, she gives insight into her personal struggles. When others referred to her as a 'saint' she politely declined the title saying the only reason she had achieved anything was because she was not "embarrassed to talk about God" in her own life.

Quoted :: The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.

Story :: Born in Mozambique in 1945, Machel has had the unique experience of being first lady in two different countries (Mozambique & South Africa). She is an international advocate for women's and children's rights, including an increase in primary school enrollment in Mozambique; advocating against gender-based violence in regions across Africa; and being a voice against child marriage. Alongside Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and her husband Nelson Mandela, she is a founding member of the Global Elders.

Why she inspires me :: Machel is a freedom fighter in the true sense of the word. Though she has faced much adversity throughout her life (limited opportunities as a child, the mysterious death of her first husband, facing serious challenges in countries where she served in political office), she has nonetheless maintained a sense of hope while advocating for good governance, equality and human rights.

Quoted :: It is the meaning of what my life has been since a youth - to try to fight for the dignity and freedom of my own people.

Story :: Born in the UK in 1975, Lloyd is an advocate for young women who have been trafficked and prostituted in the United States. A survivor herself, she moved to the U.S. in 1997 and founded Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS),  now one of the largest organizations offering direct services to American survivors of child sex trafficking. Lloyd has had tremendous influence on the current movement to address sex trafficking of minors in the United States, including a direct role in the successful passage of New York's Safe Harbor Act for Sexually Exploited Youth; and has spoken out on several occasions about the influence of mainstream society on the commodification of sex and youth in our culture.

Why she inspires me :: While there is certainly no shortage of anti-trafficking advocates within the current movement, Lloyd's life and work is especially inspirational due to her passion and conviction surrounding the development of a survivor-led reform movement. GEMS' strong focus on empowering survivors to express their experiences, observations and desires - done in a way that does not appear to be re-exploitative, but rather focused on recovering self-respect, strength and resilience - is unique. It seems Lloyd has faced many obstacles in life, but regardless of these obstacles she has found the strength to overcome them and use her energy to invest in the lives of others.

Quoted :: There have been experiences I would rather not have had and pain I wish I hadn't felt - but every experience, every tear, every hardship has equipped me for the work I do now... It puts all past hurts into perspective.

In her speech on behalf of UNWomen today, Michelle Bachelet (another on my personal list of inspiring women) closed with these words:
"Today on International Women's Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to women's rights and move forward with courage and determination. Let us defend human rights, the inherent dignity and worth of the human person, and the equal rights of men and women." [UNWomen]
Well said.

Tania is Chab Dai's International Communications Director, and is based in Phnom Penh. Follow her on Twitter at @tania_chabdai.

03 March 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Call to Action - Protect Cambodian Domestic Workers in Malaysia

Last week, over 65 Cambodian and International NGOs and trade unions took unified action to encourage the Cambodian & Malaysia governments to protect the rights of domestic workers. Chab Dai Coalition is an active member of the Cambodian Working Group from Domestic Workers (CWGDW), and endorsed this Call to Action.

You can take action too! The CWGDW is encouraging advocates around the world to show their support for this Call to Action by visiting CWGDW's Facebook Page - click "Like" and "Share" to show your endorsement, and advocate within your networks.

PRESS RELEASE: 29 February 2012, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Cambodian Working Group for Domestic Workers (CWGDW) today issued a “Call to Action” that has been endorsed by 65 Cambodian and International NGOs and trade unions. Together they are calling on the Cambodian and Malaysian governments to take specific measures to protect and ensure the rights of all domestic workers.

Background: Cambodia’s Ban on Domestic Workers to Malaysia is an Opportunity to Protect the Rights of Migrants
On October 15, 2011, the Prime Minister of Cambodia announced a ban on the recruitment, training and sending of domestic workers to Malaysia. In an effort to lift the ban, the Malaysian government has expressed eagerness to propose a bilateral agreement in the coming weeks that will govern the rights and entitlements of Cambodian domestic workers working in Malaysia. The CWGDW, in conjunction with 65 NGOs and trade unions, see the time leading up to the signing of this agreement as a rich opportunity for both governments to make necessary changes to facilitate positive migration experiences during the recruitment, employment, and repatriation stages, and prevent further abuses and exploitation of domestic workers.

The CWGDW was founded in November 2011 and is a network of civil society stakeholders. The purpose of this action-based forum is to collaborate and unite advocacy efforts and resources to respond to issues affecting domestic workers, and to encourage the Royal Government of Cambodia to ratify the new ILO Convention 189 concerning decent work for domestic workers. Within the last three months, the group has already gained support from domestic and international NGOs and trade unions, and will continue to focus on protecting the rights of domestic workers.

The Call for Action
The Call for Action urges the governments of Cambodia & Malaysia to take the following actions:
1. Sign a bilateral agreement that ensures the protection of rights enshrined in ILO C189.
2. Adopt and enforce mandatory standardized employment and job placement services contracts that adhere to the standards established in ILO C189.
3. Ensure that the regulation of private recruitment agencies meets the standards in ILO C189.
4. Ratify ILO C189 and bring national laws and enforcement into alignment, including covering domestic workers under national labor laws.
5. Establish effective monitoring mechanisms for greater accountability and transparency in recruitment, placement, and employment of domestic workers.
6. Ensure effective access to redress, legal remedies and grievance procedures in Cambodia and Malaysia for victims of rights violations and abuse.
7. Improve screening to identify victims of abuse and survivors of trafficking, and provide them with legal aid, shelter, counseling, and repatriation and reintegration services, as needed.
8. Ensure protection and support for domestic workers already working in Malaysia at the time of the issuance of the ban.
9. Work through regional mechanisms to strengthen the ASEAN Declaration on Migrant Workers and the ASEAN Plan of Action through the promotion of minimum standards for domestic workers.
10. Recognize the special needs and vulnerabilities of female and male migrants and tailor systems to respond.
11. Ensure extensive consultation with civil society organizations working on domestic workers, migration and trafficking to implement the above.

NOTE: The full Call to Action can be downloaded here: in Khmer & English.

For more information contact: Mr. Mom Sokchar, Media Contact - sokchar_mom@lscw.org or (+855) 12 943 767

22 February 2012

A Bunch of Chopsticks Can't Be Broken! - Khmer Saying

I happen to be one of those strange people who really loves change.  What isn’t to love about new beginnings? Fresh slate, fresh excitement and if you’re lucky, a good party. Chab Dai celebrated a new beginning yesterday at our new office celebration.  It was a wonderful gathering, celebrating Chab Dai’s history and dreaming about the future with friends and members. And in typical Cambodian fashion, there was enough food to feed us all five times over.

It was a fantastic time to get together and reflect on how much Chab Dai has grown and remember how important it is to be united.  From the humble beginnings of begging for office space from friends to now, being settled in a spacious, beautiful new office - great things are happening! It wouldn’t have been possible without partnerships, support, and teamwork. To reiterate Helen’s words at our celebration, thanks for being part of the history and part of the future.

{By the way, this is also a new beginning for me and I should introduce myself! My name is Mary and I am a new Chab Dai team member.  I am interning in 2012, working on social media and communications stuff.  I am so honored to be a part of the Chab Dai family and engage with all of you.  Feel free to say hello on twitter (mary_chabdai) or find me on Facebook (Mary Hoey).  I would love to ‘meet’ all of you.}

17 February 2012

'Shine On'

Reflections and prayers for grassroots collaboration around cross-border trafficking issues in the region: celebrations of the past, and hope for the future.

Collaboration can be challenging, and I'll admit to say so.
At times doing what I think is best,
.......Alone,.......Can seem easier.

But the regional impact I've seen in the last year through people working together
Causes me to hold to the belief that

So this is my prayer. God, remind us daily of this greater, collective impact.

Help us to act
.......Collaboratively,.............Not-competitively,....................Willing to compromise {our paths, not our vision},...........................With open hearts that strive to include others,
And help us to continually hope for unity.
Thank you God for showing me how your power can shine brighter through people united-
Like last year, when cross-border talks happened and a grassroots safety net was created for protecting Cambodian migrant women exploited in Malaysia.
........God, shine on in our partner referrals.

Like today, when I saw networks of people communicating ideas & strategies back and forth.
........God, shine on in our daily communication.

And like next week, when a collective Call to Action statement will go public and the endorsements of over 60 regional civil society organizations will shout together for Cambodian & Malaysian governments to expeditiously put mechanisms of protection in place for migrant workers!!
........God, shine on in our shouts across the region.

And like next year, well I don't know exactly, yet, but I know God that you care about migrants and victims of trafficking & exploitation. You are and will take care of them.
Through us.

God, shine on.
May our trust match your faithfulness
and your light magnify
as we join hands with others

God restore our hearts to trust each other,
........To see together what alone we only dream is possible.

And praying,