Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights: Volume 10

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(19 chapters)
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Pages xi-xii
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Meng-Hsuan Chou starts the anthology with Chapter 2, ‘EU Mobility Partnerships and Gender: Origin and Implications’. Here she shows how current EU regulations regarding migration came to be formed they way they are and how this development was motivated. She not only explores the circumstances under which European Union (EU) mobility partnerships were established, but also examines the effects in terms of migration flows. She raises the question of how the migration policies of the receiving states gender migratory flows, and also wonder whether instrument formulations are intentional or unintentional. While previous research has mostly examined these issues from the perspective of national migration policies, Chou finds that a supranational viewpoint still is missing, a gap in the literature she here aims to fill in. The EU migration instruments known as the ‘mobility partnerships’ are established by participating EU member states and certain third-world countries with the aim of facilitating circular migration. Chou approaches her questions through empirical analysis of three different data sets: (1) existing studies on the migration-development nexus, European migration policy co-operation and EU mobility partnerships; (2) publicly available reports and official EU documents and (3) position papers circulated amongst national delegates who prepared for, and defended their domestic positions at, the Tampere European Council summit. She suggests that the European governments rarely had ‘gender balance’ as priority when it came to border control. However, by definition and design, EU policies are meant to affect migratory flows. To discern how, it is necessary to look more closely at what happens in practice when member states implement the measures (e.g. from the EU level to the national/bilateral level).

What is the role of the state in gendering transnational migration? Although a central question to studies of the migration–gender nexus, Pessar and Mahler (2003) maintain that our existing knowledge concerning this relationship is still rudimentary (cf. Hondagneu-Sotelo, 2003). In the few studies that have sought to uncover this dynamic, the investigative focus has been on the role of sending countries. For instance, in Goldring's (2001) classic study, we learned that Mexican state policies/programmes have contributed to biasing political representation of the two sexes in favour of men in transnational spaces. Similarly, Tyner (1999) uncovered the importance of national policies in gendering migration from the Philippines. He reported that the government's decision to pursue an economic strategy premised on export of labour has effectively ensured that its citizens fulfilled the gendered roles specified by foreign demands (i.e. men for construction in the Middle East, and women for domestic work in Asia) (Tyner, 1999, pp. 683–684).1

This chapter examines the relationship between the gendering of domestic work – its construction as ‘women's work’ – and the treatment within migration regimes of people who do such work. Research on paid domestic workers to date has highlighted that there are many examples of migrant domestic workers being subject to more stringent, limiting or invasive visa regulations than other migrant workers (see, e.g. Constable, 2003; Mundlak & Shamir, 2008; Pratt, 2004; Yeoh & Huang, 1999a, 1999b). Additionally, domestic workers can be excluded from employment protections, such as those that ensure minimum wages or maximum working hours for other groups (Hondagneu-Sotelo, 2001; Mundlak & Shamir, 2008; Pratt, 2004).

This chapter discusses the employment of migrant women to work as ‘nannies’ in private homes in the United Kingdom.1 The term nanny has been used in the United Kingdom to denote a ‘qualified childcare professional’ (Cox, 2006; Gregson & Lowe, 1994). In this chapter, however, I argue that in 2010 it also referred to a form of deprofessionalised unqualified childcare provided in private homes across the United Kingdom. Migrant women have long been over-represented in care and domestic work in a range of advanced and emerging states (Anderson, 2007; Lutz, 2008) and this form of deprofessionalised nanny employment was no exception. This alternative use of the term nanny in the United Kingdom therefore referred with increasing frequency to migrant women who could be tasked with caring for children while also shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving, providing homework assistance etc. The chapter argues further that deprofessionalised nanny employment, occurring as it did in private domestic spaces and in the context of very low levels of state control, was likely to be characterised by high levels of informality (Cyrus, 2008). This meant that an important element of the childcare and associated domestic work sector in the United Kingdom was performed illegally. Deprofessionalisation and informality in the employment of (often migrant) nannies in the United Kingdom is troubling not only because of its association with illegal employment but also because it represented a marked failure to realise the demands for the upgrading of the status of care- and housework that have been key themes of feminist debate since the 1970s (Lutz, 2008).

In this chapter,1 I explore topics which unexpectedly emerged in in-depth interviews with Filipino and Eastern European women in Norway, which proved important for the ways in which they experienced their sojourn as au pairs in Oslo. These topics were related to their physical experience of having and being a body, as bodily subjects and as objects for ‘consumption’. To understand au pairs' experiences one must include an analysis both of experiences related to eating practices and experiences related to sexuality, in terms of ‘being a (female) body’ (Bordo, 2003). These two kinds of experiences may be regarded as interrelated and challenge and activate the division between public and private, employer and employee, and involve intimacy and experiences which are interpreted as physical.

In 2009, Lucha, a Mexican woman who had migrated to Chicago and worked at a candy factory described her work as ‘A slow assassination of your soul’. Her experience in the United States was transformative. The power she previously had as a community activist and college student in Mexico was eroded. Lucha's experience exemplifies a shift in her identity and how that changing identity fashioned the character of her economic activities. Race, ethnicity, and gender shift and change meaning through migration (Gilmartin, 2008, p. 1840) and shape ‘migrant women's multiple relations in the process of migration’ (Parreñas, 2009, p. 11). We are interested in the struggles, realities and contestations of immigrant women. We want to better understand how migrant women negotiate the dynamic intersections of race, gender and citizenship identities in new places in order to survive, prosper and exert influence in new places and economic environments. Based on indepth interviews with immigrant women in Chicago, Illinois, United States and in the Barcelona area of Spain, we demonstrate that issues of race, gender and citizenship influenced the kinds of jobs they obtained and the working conditions they experienced, as well as their ability to become accepted members of the community. In this chapter, we want to respond to the call made by Parreñas (2009) to contribute to the gender and migration literature by analysing structural gender inequalities beyond differences between men and women, and focusing on how gender inequalities are constructed as they intersect with other inequalities based on race and citizenship. The women we interviewed endured humiliation based on their intersecting identities at work; some questioned their belonging in their new countries while at the same time feeling that they did not belong in their home country, as other authors such as Parreñas (2001) have found. The challenge for planners and policymakers is to understand the intricacies of multiple identities across places and scales. Hearing their complex stories of work and perceptions of belonging in their country of origin and new country can help academics who are training future planners and professionals build more inclusive planning and policy theory and practice.

In this chapter, I discuss intersectionality in relation to complexity theory as an approach to social systems, inspired by Sylvia Walby's ground-breaking work where she brings together these two theoretical perspectives (2007, 2009, p. 250). In order to apply her synthesis to my study of migrant nurses to Norway, I examine the methodological potential of Bourdieu-inspired feminist concept of capitals (Adkins & Skeggs, 2004) in grasping the connections between individual agency and intersecting systems of inequality.

In his first two months at the immigration detention facility, euphemistically called a ‘shelter’, Deruba consumed his daily lessons of vocabulary and math. ‘Good morning. My name is Deruba. What is your name?’ he would chant. ‘I am from Guatemala. Where are you from?’ ‘Good afternoon. How are you? I am fine’. He had only attended school for four years in Guatemala before his parents died in a bus accident forcing him to support his younger sister, Isura. ‘It was not a good time. We did not have anybody. No aunts, no uncles to help us. My grandparents died long ago. I don't even remember them. It was just me and my little sister’.5 Deruba, 13 years old at the time, and Isura, then 11 years old, lived on the streets of Livingston, Guatemala for over 2 years. He worked as a boat hand on boats [lanchas] transporting tourists to Livingston, painting cars at a small auto body shop and selling marijuana to young German and American tourists coming to soak up Livingston's bohemian environs.6

As a growing literature points out (Aronowitz, 2009, pp. 165–213), HT becomes criminal because it involves displacing, exploiting and commercializing a human being, all of these necessitating transportation, trade and torture to varying degrees to survive and succeed (Nair, 2010, pp. 12–19). John T. Picarelli informs us, these began ‘in the Americas’ from 1502, ‘when Portuguese traders brought the first African slaves to the Caribbean’ (Picarelli, 2011, p. 180, but see all of Chapter 9). African slaves continued to be imported into the United States until 1808, but by the time the 13th Amendment ‘outlawed’ indentured servitude in 1865, the 645,000 slaves shipped from Africa had multiplied beyond 4 million, to whom were added (a) Chinese women, ‘to work in brothels … to serve both the Chinese and white communities’ after the 1860s; (b) Europeans, through collusion between ‘criminal syndicates’ and ‘U.S. [law enforcement] officials’, in what was called ‘the white slave trade’ from the 1880s (Shelley, 2010, pp. 235, 237); and (c) Hispanics (Alba & Nee, 2003; Gordon, 1964; Suárez-Orozco, 1998), in tandem with the dominant U.S. migratory inflows and economic needs after the 1960s (Borjas, 1999; Huntington, 2004, pp. 30–45), and the emergence of sex tourism after the Cold War (Clift & Carter, 2000; María Agustin, 2007; Rogers, 2009; Thorbek & Bandana Pattanaik, 2002).

Human trafficking has been a serious challenge in international, regional and national policy development during the past 10 years. Developing appropriate anti-trafficking instruments has therefore remained a high-priority activity, with a high degree of international co-operation in seeking to identify best practices in this field. Three different strands of actions make up the ‘anti-trafficking governance system’ (Friesendorf, 2007, p. 388): prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, and the development and use of appropriate legal means to prosecute traffickers.1 These goals are defined in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. This protocol is a voluntary supplement to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

An ideal victim is someone who is both weak and strong enough (Christie, 1986). To be seen as an ideal victim one should be vulnerable, weak and not to blame for the crime one has been subjected to. But, in order to be seen, heard and believed one must also be strong, resourceful and confident. This chapter discusses the conflicting perceptions between the weak and the strong victim in light of one particular group of victims, Nigerian women subjected to trafficking for prostitution. What types of expectations do these women meet when identified as victims of trafficking in Norway? Do the Nigerian women live up to the image of the ideal victim? Or do they have to adjust their behaviour in order to enter this role and be entitled to help and assistance? The answers to these questions tell us whether existing trafficking measures are based on the real needs of victims of trafficking, or an idealised image of their problems and needs.

About the Authors

Pages 253-255
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Nicky Busch has Ph.D. from the University of London. She is currently researching the in-home care and domestic sectors in the United Kingdom.

Cover of Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights
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Advances in Ecopolitics
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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