The need for accurate and adequate information regarding migration
A.M. Ashoka Abeynayake
Migration is a global phenomenon today and it is becoming a social issue in Sri Lanka, as the number of migrants are on the increase in every passing year. People migrate to foreign countries in search of a better life for them personally and for their family members in general.
Lack of information and awareness of the rights of migrant workers contribute to their vulnerability as workers in the global labour market. Specially, women migrant workers face specific challenges and with the majority of migrant workers in Sri Lanka, been female, the problems they encounter bring hazards to their families in return. Therefore it has become vital and crucial need for the authorities to look into this problem with a greater commitment.
The alarming situation has prompted us to think in terms of finding reasonable solution before it develops to a grave national calamity.
Accurate, adequate and easily accessible information is critical as the basis of migration decision-making.
Women as well as men, use whatever information is available to them in order to decide on the appropriateness and costs and benefits of migration for themselves or their family members. Information is also critical to prevent, trafficking, since trafficking involves misinformation, deception and ignorance. Information needs vary, depending on the stage of the migration process.
Some kinds of information are more critical at the decision-making stage before the commitment to migrate has actually been made. Other kinds of information are more relevant to migrant workers who have already made their decision.
Many potential migrant workers, especially those who are considering the option of migration for the first time and women who have been living sheltered lives within patriarchal families, can have unrealistic expectations and perceptions about working for the first time and living abroad because;
* Information is usually shaped by the way the community, the media, returning migrants and recruitment agents portray the migration process and the living and working conditions in foreign countries;
* Recruitment agents and traffickers provide misleading information about job offers, conditions of work, the nature and type of the jobs, wages and benefits.
* Returning migrants often give a very rosy picture of their experience, or are reluctant to publicly display the negative sides of their migration experience or the real nature of their work abroad;
* The information provide by male migrant workers might not always be relevant to potential female migrants.
* Women themselves - because of their subordinate position within their families or society - often lack access to information about legal channels of recruitment, labour market opportunities at home and abroad and the general situation in potential countries of destination.
Before the actual commitment is made to seek employment abroad or to accept an offer of employment, potential female migrant workers and their families need the following information:
* Information on the migratory process, including on recruitment and employment abroad, as well as the documented or undocumented nature of the movement;
* Information on job opportunities at home and abroad, including the qualifications, skills and training needed;
* Information on the costs and benefits of migration.
* Information on the major dangers of the migration process, including the specific vulnerabilities of women migrants;
* Information on the rights and obligations of migrant workers;
* Information on required procedures/ clearances;
* Information on working and living conditions in potential countries of destination
The role of the government in countries of origin is critical in this issue. Governments need to take the main responsibility for information dissemination and for ensuring that the information provided by others, such as recruitment agents, is realistic and accurate.
Governments and social actors - workers’ and employers’ organizations, NGOs, religious organizations, community-based associations, the media - should actively develop strategies for reaching out to potential women migrants and their families and communities to ensure that they receive adequate, accurate and timely information to make sensible decisions on migration and to be well prepared for employment abroad.
As Sri Lankans, each and every citizen we should take steps in hand in hand to empower migrants in Sri Lanka from the 18th December - The International ‘Migrants Day’.