Vietnam women workers abroad suffer several abuses: conference

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Sexual harassment, overwork, low wages and poor access to information as well as healthcare are among several forms of abuse Vietnamese women face working abroad, officials said at a conference in Da Nang last week.

Of the 500,000 or so Vietnamese citizens working in 40 countries and territories, 30-35 percent are women.

The two-day conference ending Friday was held by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs to discuss ways to make sure the women are fairly treated, a Tuoi Tre report said.

The United Nations's gender equality and women empowerment agency, UN Women, the International Labor Organization, Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS), and representatives of countries with long experience in protecting offshore women workers like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Sri Lanka attended the conference.

Nguyen Luong Trao, chairman of VAMAS, said around 80-95 percent of Vietnam's overseas women workforce went through broker companies, and "thus these play a very big role in protecting their rights."

Trao suggested that a code of conduct be compiled for such businesses. 

Smita Mitra from UN Women said that as a matter of gender difference, women working aboard are more vulnerable to abuses than men, mostly those working as home helpers.

She said women also have other major problems including their lack of expertise in foreign currency, managing credit accounts and distractions of family problems at home.

Officials at the meeting said Vietnam needs specific policies targeting the rights of women working abroad in order to make sure they are protected.

The women also need better training and consultancy before leaving for other countries, especially in interactive skills, they said.

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