Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marriage migrants call for rights protection amidst global crisis

Statement released by AMMORE
(Action Network for Marriage Migrants Rights and Empowerment)

June 2009

On this traditional month for weddings
Marriage migrants call for rights protection amidst global crisis

The implementation of the policies of neoliberal globalization that led to the worst global recession has pushed women from underdeveloped and developing countries into transnational marriages that often put them in worse destitution, distress and death.

The traditional perception that getting married in June will bring a lifelong honeymoon all the more remains an illusion for women who grasp at the only opportunity to improve their condition which is marriage migration.

Without doubt, the proliferation of marriage bureaus, internet matchmaking, aggressive advertisements for brides on the media, and other modus operandi has eradicated the honor and dignity of marriage.

A record number of 300,000 Filipinos, 92 percent of whom are women, are married to foreigners mainly from the United States, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea. This number has tripled in just a span of eight years from 7,819 in 1998 to 24,954 in 2006, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Apparently, the systematic export of people including marriage migrants has generated for the sending government, revenues in the form of fees that the foreign husbands pay to buy their foreign brides and the remittances that the women later send to their families that are desperately in need.

Despite all these profits, however, governments of countries of origin abandon their responsibility to protect their nationals who fall victims of domestic violence by their foreign husbands as well as discriminatory policies by the government in the country of destination.

To address their situation, the AMMORE (Action Network for Marriage Migrants’ Rights and Empowerment) vows to strengthen or help develop grassroots marriage migrants in the host countries and develop and strengthen the link with women organizations in both sending and receiving countries.

Upon its formation, network members immediately launched the “unVEIL!” campaign, which as the name connotes, uncovers the core of state repression that marriage migrants face like systematic discrimination and allowing the condition to perpetuate violence against women such as domestic violence, trafficking, statelessness, government neglect, loss of socio-economic opportunities, slavery and even death.

On this bridal month, AMMORE reiterates its commitment to pursue the unVEIL! campaign by encouraging marriage migrants to take action and unite together to fight for their rights and well-being.

In addition, AMMORE has designed a Comparative Research on Equity and Access for Marriage Migrants (Migration and Welfare Laws, Policies and Programs of Receiving Countries) ready for implementation in key countries such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia.

Education work and public information are necessary for the marriage migrants to develop and empower themselves. Because of the unequal development of grassroots marriage migrants’ movement in every home and host country, it is quite significant to learn from the experiences of each country especially the advanced.

This is the purpose of an exchange visit that will be undertaken in Japan and South Korea next month. It is hoped that the experience will strengthen the marriage migrants’ unity, coordination and cooperation on crucial issues that affect their lives and their families. Also, this is a chance to lobby with government officials in the host country on the plight and protection of the rights of marriage migrants.

All these issues and concerns shall eventually cease for the marriage migrants through solidarity with strong and sustained internationally coordinated actions.

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