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Philippines ratifies international treaty for domestic workers rights

The Domestic Workers Convention (DWC) [text] was ratified by the Philippines on Monday, giving the international treaty its second ratification and paving the way for the convention to enter full force of law. The International Labor Organization (ILO) [official website] created the DWC to set the first global standards for domestic workers worldwide to ensure they receive the same protections available to other workers [HRW report] such as weekly days off, work hour limits, limits on in-kind payment, minimum wage, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and other benefits. "Considering that domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities and who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and of work, and to other abuses of human rights," the DWC seeks to curb a wide range of abuses and exploitations, such as excessive work hours, non-payment of wages, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and trafficking, and also obliges government to prevent both violence against domestic workers and child labor in domestic work. There are an estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide. The treaty takes effect one year after its second ratification, which was completed by the Philippine Senate on Monday after President Benigno Aquino III [official websites] signed it on May 18. Uruguay ratified the convention in April.

In June the ILO released a report on forced labor, estimating that nearly 21 million people around the world work in forced labor [JURIST report] and noting that women represent 55 percent of forced laborers worldwide. The ILO is a specialized agency of the UN. The agency adopted the DWC [JURIST report] at last year's annual meeting of ILO member states, the 100th Session of the International Labor Conference [official website]. That same month Megan McKee, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Class of 2012 and a legal researcher for the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, wrote about the need for greater rights for migrant workers [JURIST comment], especially for those employed as domestic workers, and marked DWC's adoption as a "remarkable" passage of a "historic" international treaty.

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