Amina looks at the clear crystal sea, from the window in her small room. It is the same sea which years before brought her to this island, she thinks. Then her revolving thoughts transport her back to Africa, the country which she knew and loved. She had to escape from it due to war and conflict.
Amina, is one of the many immigrants who cross the Mediterranean sea. They flee from war and conflict, hoping for a better life and settle in one of the countries in the Mediterranean region. Some of these immigrants manage to find work but end up working for long hours in low paying jobs which otherwise would be unfilled.
Migrant women are susceptible to violence during all phases of their journey. The phases which migrant women go through are during conflict in their country, during their flight, in the country of asylum, during repatriation and during their reintegration. During armed conflict, women and girls are being raped and sexually assaulted by armed members of parties in conflict which also include members of the Security forces.
In some circumstances women are forced into pregnancy. However, if they manage to escape the conflicts, migrant women are more likely to face sexual attack by bandits, borders officials, by pirates and may be captured for trafficking by smugglers. These women are also exposed to sexual abuse while they are in transit facilities or coerced into prostitution as a means of survival.
The same abuse goes through the phases of repatriation and even at times during re integration which may also include sexual extortion in order to regularize legal status.
It is very common to find migrant women working in domestic households, yet, even in these environments women have experienced any type of violence. In most of the cases, migrant women are entirely dependent on their employers and have their travel documents controlled and contact with the external world is prohibited.
Abuse women migrant workers take many forms, from sexual, to physical and psychological. These assaults are often used as punishment for the worker s’ slow work and they may also be threatened of being deported or their wages withhold.
Violence is rarely reported and even if they do they get limited or no assistance at all. The perpetrators may be the male employer, their associates, guests, their relatives and even other male employers in the same household. In situations where the women reported the abuse to their female employers these women workers were turned out and accused of seducing their employers.
These situations violate the Human Rights Conventions which provide definitive protection against gender based violence. The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women specifies on these abuses and includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and either deprivation of liberty. Sexual harassment is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection to the harassment would put her in a disadvantage in connection to her employment or promotion.
Similar Conventions are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Article 5(b) provides the right to security of person and the protection by the state against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or any individual group or situation.
The International Covenant on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant workers and their Families includes the provision that all migrant workers have the right to be free from torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment. Article 16(2) guarantees the right of migrant workers and members of their families to effective protection by the state against violence, physical injury, threats and intimidation.
In Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that state must respect and ensure that all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights included in the convention without distinction of any kind such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other states.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Art 2 calls on states to ensure that the rights included in the Convention are exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
States may require adopting measures to fulfill their obligations and which should include laws and programs to prevent violence against women in the hands of employers and should include penalties for abusive employers while strengthening services for women surviving violence.
Migrant women should be provided with information regarding their rights and this is achieved by strong campaigns. Women s’ Rights should be respected in all spheres of life and in all environments. Women have suffered already for too long.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
http;//www.un.org/rights Women and Violence
Human Rights Protection Applicable to Women Migrant Workers