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Title: Health concerns of 'invisible'1 cross-border domestic maids in Thailand
Authors: Toyota, M. 
Keywords: Border minority
Domestic maids
Issue Date: Mar-2006
Citation: Toyota, M. (2006-03). Health concerns of 'invisible'1 cross-border domestic maids in Thailand. Asian Population Studies 2 (1) : 19-36. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: With the rising number of sex venues along the Thai-Burmese border and the perceived links between migration and the HIV epidemic, the Thai authorities and NGOs have begun concerning themselves with health problems of immigrant workers and seeking effective social welfare programmes for them. However, this paper argues that formal service programmes targeting specific groups may not be enough and notes a need to call attention to officially invisible migrants, particularly domestic maids from Burma who are more vulnerable precisely because they are 'invisible'. The 'maid trade' from Burma to Thailand is statistically invisible firstly because domestic work is not recognized as a formal occupation either by the employers or the employees and therefore, they fail to be registered in census data. Burmese female domestic workers in Thailand are normally recruited through informal channels facilitated by regional trans-national networks that also engage in human smuggling. Domestic workers remain invisible in Thailand also because most of them are live-in and tend to work for one family for lengthy periods of time. They are normally out of reach of labour unions, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations and public health services. The fear of being caught as 'illegal workers' by the authorities further hinders their contact with the public. This paper also attributes the migrants' invisibility to the tradition of 'domestic servitude' in Thai society. Using three detailed case studies, the paper demonstrates how the invisibility has contributed to the health vulnerability of these women in their daily lives. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
Source Title: Asian Population Studies
ISSN: 17441730
DOI: 10.1080/17441730600700481
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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