Indonesia bans women from being domestic workers in Malaysia: on removing women from the public sphere

27.02.2011 § 1 Comment

Indonesian state responds to abuse of maids by banning people from the job… Wild article, read here on ludmila p

…19 months ago, following horrific reports of beatings, rapes and other abuse of maids by Malaysian employers, Indonesia barred its citizens from taking new jobs as domestic workers here. Since then, help has been in short supply. And Malaysians are not happy.

I mean, imagine them doing this to any other sector? “Car factories are killing 5 people a day, let’s just ban them from increasing the labor force for a while”. The immediate similarity is i guess prostitution “that shit’s dangerous/unsavory lets make it illegal”. It certainly seems like this move on the part of the indonesian state will just bifurcate the Domestic Worker community into above- and under-ground, with all new hires having to sneak around illegally.

Seems that the state’s response to violence in women-dominated fields, is to push the working population in this trade (majority women) out of the publicly recognized labor force. Women are produced in the private sphere and remain immanently tied to it, always potentially roped back out of society, back into the nothingness which is society’s outside.

Anyway in this case there’s the added complexity of it being the Indonesian gov who is banning its own citizens from going to malaysia and becoming maids. The article says the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are “negotiating” over pay and working conditions.

its also interesting that you have what sounds like middle and lower-middle class people in Malaysia being able to afford maids from Indonesia, and not being able to find Malaysians to do the job – which means the cost of labor power is really really low in Indonesia, but not in Malaysia (same relationship here in the US of course, with the US and many countries to the south). This uneven geography of labor power  costs in relation to the trade of female domestic labor is vurry interesting… any good reads out there?


the nothing


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§ One Response to Indonesia bans women from being domestic workers in Malaysia: on removing women from the public sphere

  • emilie says:

    we haven’t gotten to it yet in class, so i can’t vouch for it myself, but BS mentioned that *migrants for export: how the philipines state brokers labor for the world* by robyn rodriguez is really interesting in terms of the state’s regulation of domestic worker emigration, contracts, etc. mebbe useful

    also we’ve been reading about subsistence economies at home subsidizing migrant wages earned at a distance, which may be a factor for why labour power is “cheaper” in indonesia — that is, there cd be non-market reasons along with political mechanisms in place to cheapen indonesian labour power. this could be relying on quasi-serf/peasant agriculture, for instance? don’t know anything about the geography in indonesia.

    anyway thanks for the post and your BADASS website

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