Globally, one in three women experiences gender-based violence (GBV) in their lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this phenomenon as stay-at-home orders confined women to their homes with increased exposure to domestic violence. IOM conducted an interview with HomeNet, a non-governmental organization (NGO) supporting domestic workers across Thailand, to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on GBV among migrant domestic workers.
As a main migration destination country in the region, domestic work in Thailand is also increasingly undertaken by migrant workers. There were 107,357 migrant domestic workers in Thailand in 2020, most of whom are women.
“Live-in domestic workers have long faced increased workloads, unregulated working hours and increased vulnerability to abuse. However, these have been exacerbated by stay-at-home orders since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Boonsom Namsomboon, Secretary-General of HomeNet Thailand.
Domestic workers have been facing the need to comply with amplified demands in the sustained presence of their employers. The amount of cooking and cleaning they had to do increased dramatically, giving them little or no rest period throughout the week.
Domestic workers have also been facing abuse and harassment. Some would attempt reporting to authorities, while some would be reluctant due to language barriers and the fear of losing their jobs. Migrant domestic workers, in particular, fear that they would be asked to return to their home countries.
HomeNet has been actively supporting survivors of gender-based violence before and during the pandemic. HomeNet assists survivors in communicating with authorities and helps them connect with other domestic workers for support. “Having someone you can communicate with, and trust is important,” said Dr. Boonsom.
Dr. Boonsom also noted that domestic workers are often unaware that what they are experiencing is a form of GBV. HomeNet conducts seminars for domestic workers, equipping them with proper knowledge and information on how and where to seek help. In addition, HomeNet provides training to other NGOs to support them in addressing the specific needs of survivors.
HomeNet has also developed a mobile application, with an improved version to be launched in early 2022, providing domestic workers with accurate information on forms of violence and locating the nearest police station and hospitals.
If you would like to report cases of domestic violence, you can reach out to HomeNet at +66-61-775-8181 or contact the Thai Ministry of Social Development and Human Security’s Helpline at 1300.
Note to Editor:
HomeNet works with IOM Thailand through the Social Protection for All in Thailand (Joint UN Programme) and PROMISE Programme.
Social Protection for All in Thailand is a Joint UN Programme funded by the Joint SDG Fund. Through close collaboration with HomeNet, the Programme continues to advocate for a greater inclusion of domestic workers, both Thais and migrants, into the social protection system in Thailand for the benefit of all.
PROMISE is implemented by IOM with generous support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC). Since 2017, PROMISE has been supporting migrant domestic workers in partnership with HomeNet. Through skills development, enhancing worker employability, and by promoting migrant protection, PROMISE helps migrant workers achieve better lives, contributing to poverty reduction and greater economic resilience for themselves and their families.