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“Costly Dream”, Susan Meiselas and Human Rights Watch

Magnum Photos
6 August 2006

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Susan Meiselas, 2006 Click here to launch slideshow

In Asia, women from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka are migrating in increasing numbers to the middle east, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as live-in domestic workers. Their dreams of earning money to educate their children or build new homes often come with grave risks and costs. Excluded from labour laws, domestic workers often work 16-18 hours a day, seven days a week, for meagre wages. Others are confined to the workplace or subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Unregulated recruitment practises and exorbitant fees often leave migrant domestic workers heavily indebted and increase the risk of exploitation. Then after years away, women migrants may come home to unfaithful husbands or children who have grown up without them. Migration holds many promises but at what price?

Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and Human Rights watch researcher Nisha Varia travelled to Indonesia and Singapore in May 2006 to witness the cycle of migration at different points: departure, employment, and return.

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