The International Migration of “Traditional Women”: Migrant Sex Workers, Domestic Workers, and Mail-order Brides in the Pacific Rim
CCIS hosted an interdisciplinary conference on the international migration of women filling traditional women’s roles in the Pacific Rim region. The Pacific Rim region has witnessed considerable growth in female migration over the past several decades, particularly from less developed states such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia into more developed states such as Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the U.S., and Canada. Many of these female migrants become domestic workers, sex workers, and mail-order brides in the receiving states, providing housecleaning, child care, cooking, elderly care, and/or sexual services. That is, there is an apparent demand in more developed states in the Pacific Rim not for generic labor, but for a certain kind of woman to provide the kinds of gendered services and caring labor historically relegated to women. Concurrently, the industries that recruit, traffic, and broker migrant women for these gendered roles have developed into multi-million dollar enterprises. These emerging markets have consequences for the social structures of both sending and receiving states in the Pacific Rim. They also have consequences for the migrants themselves, who are often subject to abuses not easily addressed through labor laws.