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Gender-based violence at work

The protection lotto against gender-based violence

CASSANDRA WATERS
AFL-CIO

Women receive vastly different levels of protection against gender-based violence in the work place depending on where and who they are.

GBV at work: when the boss is the threat

JUDY GEARHART
International Labor Rights Forum

Treating gender-based violence as a type of discrimination leaves many women trapped under violent bosses with nowhere to turn.

An ILO convention against GBV

AGGLOMERATED LABOUR
 

Will the world accept an ILO convention to end gender-based violence in the workplace?


Trabajadores migrantes crean union independiente

RAMÓN TORRES
Familias Unidas por la Justicia


“Hands Off Pants On”

SARAH LYONS
UNITE HERE Local 1

Too many women in Chicago’s hospitality industry are experiencing gender-based abuse at work.

Care in the global economy

RHACEL PARREÑAS and CLAUDIA BRUNO
U. Southern California, inGenere.it

Understanding care work in a modern, global economy is no easy matter.


Surviving violence in a Bangladeshi garment factory

KALPONA AKTER
Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity


Ending hotel worker harassment

ABBY LAWLOR
UNITE HERE Local 8

Union members in Seattle are fighting for safer workplaces for women hotel workers.

The crisis of workplace violence

INDUSTRIALL
A global union

Violence against women at work is real, from verbal and physical abuse all the way to murder.


Violencia de género en el sector agrícola centroamericano

IRIS MUNGUÍA
F. de Sindicatos de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria


Servants of capitalism

SARA R. FARRIS
Goldsmiths College

Capitalism has always depended on domestic servitude.

The world of domestic work

Domestic workers speak: a global landscape of voices for labour rights and social recognition

GIULIA GAROFALO GEYMONAT and SABRINA MARCHETTI
Ca' Foscari University

In the last decade, awareness has greatly increased about the living and working conditions of the world's 67 million domestic workers. We now know that abuse and exploitation, child labour, discrimination, starvation, violence, debt bondage, invisibility, and the many crimes held under the umbrella of ‘trafficking’ are disproportionately represented within this traditionally unorganised and invisible sector. Many domestic workers – especially migrant domestic workers – are denied access to labour and human rights. Even in the countries where rights exist on paper, they are extremely difficult to implement, and ‘the mentality of servitude’ still prevails in different forms.

What is less known is that this increase in our awareness corresponds to the slow and steady expansion over the last 20 years, and despite considerable odds, of a grassroots mobilisation of workers who resist their exploitation and stigmatisation. They fight back as domestic workers, but also as migrant women, ethicised women, and women of the lower classes and caste. The widespread belief that domestic workers are ‘impossible to organise’ has been proven false. Read on...

Domestic work is and will always be decent work

MYRTLE WITBOOI
S.. Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union

The struggle for labour protections and rights in the time of apartheid.


My experience as a domestic worker union leader in Nairobi

RUTH KHAKAME
KUDHEIHA

Union officials alerted me to the wrongs happening in my own workplace. Now I campaign with them to promote the rights of all domestic workers in Kenya.


From personal to political, and back: the story of the Filipino Women’s Council

Charito Basa et al.
Filipino Women’s Council

Could the Filipino Women’s Council in Italy serve as a model for other movements?

When local and migrant domestic workers fight together

PHOBSUK GASING (DANG) et al.
H.K. Federation of Asian Domestic Worker Unions

Care workers put their hearts into the job. Is asking for recognition and rights in return too much?


The Filipino Kasambahay’s long struggle against invisibility

HIMAYA MONTENEGRO and VERNA VIAJAR
Labor Education and Research Network

With more than one million domestic workers currently in the Philippines there is massive potential for collective action.


The difference self-organising makes: the creative resistance of domestic workers

ROSE MAHI
Domestic worker rights activist

Informal networks of self-help and mutual care have given rise to a workers-led alliance in Lebanon.

From worker to organiser: a domestic worker in Africa

LULU OMAR
Migrant Domestic Workers Union in Oman

It takes a lot of legwork to organise some of the world’s most invisible workers.


The communal care of domestic workers in the Middle East

SARA KHATIB
Solidarity Center

Jordan has recognised domestic workers in local labour laws, but many workers are still stuck in dire situations with few good options available to them.


Let’s write a contract and call me house manager: experiences of a workers’ cooperative

OK-SEOP SHIM
National House Managers Cooperative

Worker-led initiatives are transforming how domestic work is perceived in South Korea.

Out from the shadows: domestic workers speak in the United States

AI-JEN POO
National Domestic Workers Alliance

Long exempt from most labour protections, domestic workers can show an increasingly flexibilised workforce how to survive in the new economy.

The work is not undignified, but how you treat domestic workers is

MARCELINA BAUTISTA
National Domestic Workers Union in Mexico

Today, through this text, I want to claim my rights and those of my compañeras.

Subaltern by law: the struggle for visibility in Spain

ANA CAROLINA ELÍAS ESPINOZA
Active Domestic Service

Spain recently put domestic workers on a firmer legal footing, but there’s a long way to go before they are treated at equal to other workers.


“And we continue to meet”: domestic workers stand up in France

ZITA CABAIS-OBRA
French Democratic Confederation of Labour

In a realm where many employers ignore their responsibilities, domestic workers’ best chance is to empower themselves.


“A few steps forward, still a long way to go”: old issues, new movements

LOURDES ALBÁN
Asociación de Trabajadoras Remuneradas del Hogar

A critical approach to domestic work based on our lived experiences.

Broken laws and unprotected workers in Taiwan

Chen Betty 陳容柔
Taiwan International Workers’ Association

Care workers are being worked to the point of exhaustion. Could basic rights make life better for everyone?


A chapter of our shared history: from servants to domestic workers in Italy

PINA BRUSTOLIN and RAFFAELLA MAIONI
ACLI Colf

Understand the struggles of domestic labour in Italy through the history of one of their oldest organisations, ACLI Colf.


Toward dignity and visibility for domestic workers

GEETA MENON
Domestic Workers Rights Union

The roots of prejudice against domestic workers in India run deep.

Justice for domestic workers: it’s about rights, not protection

MARISSA BEGONIA
Justice 4 Domestic Workers

Britain’s drive to limit migration has removed many of the rights migrant domestic workers once had. Could collective organising help bring them back?


How do we make labour rights real?

MARÍA ROA, ANA TERESA VÉLEZ, and ANDREA LONDOŃO
Hablemos de Empleadas Domésticas

Domestic workers have achieved many gains in Colombia in the past years. Now they're setting their sights higher.


From runaway domestic worker to organiser in Singapore

Lana
 

Endless chores, verbal abuse, and physical confinement.

The world of sex work

Sex workers speak: who listens?

GIULIA GAROFALO GEYMONAT and P.G. MACIOTI
Ca' Foscari University, Independent researcher

Gendered, racist, classist, homophobic, and transphobic violence haunts the world of sex work, and many of us believe that states, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs should do more to help. Yet a lot is being done, the problem is the efficacy of these interventions. This series addresses the violence, exploitation, abuse, and trafficking present in the sex industries, but it does so from the perspective of sex workers themselves.

These are the women, men, and transgender people who are directly touched by interventions made 'in their name', and they are the people who actively and collectively resist all forms of violence against them. By publishing their voices directly we hope to help readers resist indifference, on the one hand, and to become more critical of states’ interventions, which are widely regarded and legitimated as necessary to combat ‘trafficking’, on the other. Read on...

For decriminalisation and justice: sex workers demand legal reform and social change

INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF SEX WORKERS IN EUROPE

Austerity has increased poverty and the rise of the far right has exacerbated hostilities against migrants and LGBT people, catching sex workers in a web of intersectional vulnerability.


Who allows them to judge us?

ROSES D'ACIER

Chinese sex workers in Paris demand respect from those who had no right to take it away.

We speak but you don’t listen: migrant sex worker organising at the border

AVA CARADONNA and X:TALK PROJECT

The sex workers’ movement demands full decriminalisation of sex work, but this will only help sex workers already permitted to work unless migrant rights are also addressed.


At long last, listen to the women!

GAIL PHETERSON

State entrapment, extortion, imprisonment and slander sharpen the consciousness of sex workers.

Trafficking discourses and sex workers' mobilisation in eastern Europe and central Asia

NETOCHKA NEZVANOVA

Sex workers in eastern Europe and central Asia resist their social exclusion and repression in many ways, but the political climate has so far prevented broad-based organising.


Helping sex workers help themselves

ANNE GATHUMBI

Laws criminalising prostitution have never succeeded in ending the practice.

We don’t do sex work because we are poor, we do sex work to end our poverty

EMPOWER FOUNDATION
 

Many Thai women become sex workers not because they are poor, but in order to escape poverty. In doing so they have become providers and heads of households, and they deserve respect for that accomplishment.

The creative protests of sex workers in Argentina in the age of anti-trafficking

GEORGINA ORELLANO
AMMAR

Sex work in Argentina is legal, but since 2011 the anti-trafficking agenda has increasingly threatened that status. This has led to new alliances and strategies of resistance among sex workers there.

Sex workers want peer knowledge, not state control

HYDRA'S PEERS

Germany pretends to help prostitutes by registering them, but it will only increase sex workers’ precariousness and vulnerability. Respect and peer knowledge would go much farther.


The power of putas: the Brazilian prostitutes’ movement

THADDEUS BLANCHETTE and LAURA MURRAY

Faced with regressive policies grounded in moral panics over sexual exploitation and trafficking, the Brazilian prostitutes’ movement has mobilised to ensure a seat for itself at the policy-making table.

The French state against sex workers: a security and racist logic

SYNDICAT DU TRAVAIL SEXUEL

The French state ostensibly sees sex workers as victims, but its combined legal framework positions them first and foremost as offenders, especially when they are migrants.


Sex work activism in South Africa: a struggle for visibility

DUDU DLAMINI and SALLY-JEAN SHACKLETON

Organising sex workers to protest injustice, create safe spaces, and support one another is a difficult job. One South African organisation shares its stories of success.

Sex work is a social and not a criminal issue!

COMITATO

Sex workers in Italy banned together against abolitionist projects and managed to force support mechanisms for 'trafficking victims' into anti-trafficking legislation.


South Korea: sex workers fighting the law and law enforcement

YUJIN et al.

South Korea introduced a raft of new laws against sex work in 2004. These repressive policies are now up for constitutional review due to the intense reaction by sex workers there.

Decriminalising sex work in New Zealand: its history and impact

FRASER CRICHTON
Independent researcher

The New Zealand experience of decriminalised sex work offers a practical alternative to the often-cited Swedish Model. Might it point to a more general way forward?

Rescued but not released: the 'protective custody' of sex workers in India

VIBHUTI RAMACHANDRAN
New York University

Protective homes for women in India are carceral institutions that confine women rescued from the sex trade. Tied to a moralistic agenda of reform, protective homes restrict women’s freedom in multiple ways.

The world of surrogacy

May the surrogate speak?

BRONWYN PARRY
King’s College, London

Commercial surrogacy, the practice of bearing a child for another for payment, has recently been described as ‘the new frontline in human trafficking’. Such claims reflect concerns not merely about babies being produced, on order, for sale across a market, but also about poor women being coerced or deceived into a trade in which they are reduced to mere vessels or wombs. What analyses of surrogacy reveal, however, is that commercial surrogacy is not a singular phenomenon. It is a complex, highly variegated set of practices shaped by the social and cultural values and economic environments in which they are practiced.

To explain why this is so, I have invited leading researchers in the field to unpack some of the taken for granted assumptions around surrogacy: to demonstrate how and in what ways lived experiences of surrogacy around the globe complicate and undermine comfortable, at times sanctimonious accounts of why this ‘abject’ practice needs to be regulated out of existence. Read on...

The online, self-help world of surrogacy

ZSUZSA BEREND
University of California, Los Angeles

What do we know about the women using their own bodies to help intended parents realise their dreams of having children?


When surrogacy fails: the biopolitics and hidden risks of the industry

SAYANI MITRA
Georg August Universität

Surrogacy is marketed by the idea that it will succeed where all methods of procreation have failed. But what happens when it doesn’t, and who pays the cost of failure?

Why Mexico needs to regulate its surrogacy industry (and not ban it)

CAROLIN SCHURR and LAURA PERLER
University of St Gallen

Surrogacy is associated with trafficking in Mexico, but efforts to ban it only serve as fig leaves for not engaging with the structural problems women face.


Workers or mothers? The business of surrogacy in Russia

CHRISTINA WEIS
De Montfort University

As the Russian market for surrogates has grown, more and more women are signing on as a way to meet their financial goals. So why doesn’t our terminology reflect that?

Economising desire with assisted reproduction in India

RAKHI GHOSHAL
Bioethics researcher

Once a near-exclusive province of the elite, more couples in non-urban India are turning to assisted reproduction to have a child of their ‘own’.


Misconceptions about altruism and choice in US surrogacy

ZSUZSA BEREND
University of California, Los Angeles

Surrogate pregnancy is criticised as exploitative, yet the women involved tell a different story. Choosing to help create life for those ‘without choice’ is more altruistic than anything else.

BTS SHORT COURSE

Gender

Edited by SAM OKYERE and PRABHA KOTISWARAN

Women and girls, 'new abolitionists' say, are disproportionately affected by trafficking because of their prevalence in domestic, care, and sex work. This volume questions the selective focus on these activities, which are alternately characterised as violence and work. It also interrogates still-unresolved questions regarding the status of such work, as well as the ways in which it is understood, valued, recognised, and regulated. Our contributors highlight how gendered inequalities within and between households, as well as within and between nations, anchor the structural violence of global capitalism. Their calls for action push back against the present tendency to dwell on the images of the passive, innocent, vulnerable female victim whose only option is to be 'saved' from bad men. Interventions based on such imagery too often result in women being 'rescued' into situations that do little to improve their circumstances and worse still perpetuate their experiences of domination. Instead, they argue for an emancipatory agenda that fully values the labour and agency of women, one which dismantles prejudice and constraint rather than saves them back into a deeply unequal system.

Learn more about the BTS Short Course

Cameron Thibos

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