NEW YORK — As hundreds of people took to the streets on March 8 for the International Women’s Day Strike, these Filipino survivors of labor and human trafficking marched with a message.
Lurlyn Abasaldo was a factory worker in South Carolina who was paid only $6 an hour — that’s below the state’s minimum wage of $7.25.
She was also a victim of workplace sexual harassment.
“Kasi tayong Pilipino, hangga’t kumikita tayo ng pera ok lang kasi kailangan ng pamilya natin, hinihipuan na tayo na sex trafficked na pala yun, sa akin takot ako kasi wala akong strength para lumaban sa kanila,” said Abasaldo.
But thanks to Damayan Migrant Workers Association, she found strength by knowing her rights as a migrant worker.
“Advice Ko sa inyo, know your rights training, hindi niyo alam – na sex abuse na pala kayo, na huma trafficked na pala kayo, na labor traffic na pala kayo, dumaan kayo ng training para lama niyo ang karapatan niyo.”
The United Nations Agency for Women says one in three women globally has experienced physical or sexual violence.
Meanwhile, in Manila, hundreds of activists took to the streets branding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte a “macho-fascist” for the way he treats his women critics and for his lewd comments against women.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque accused women of “overreacting” to the president’s funny joke.
But Damayan Executive Director Linda Oalican says – more than Duterte’s misogynistic comments – the president should address unemployment in the Philippine that promotes global migration of Filipinos, particularly women.
“President Duterte, you really need, you know, to lead the development of sustainable economy in the Philippines so that your people are not forced to go out and become vulnerable domestic workers around the globe,” said Oalican.
As the #MeToo women’s rights campaign intensifies – Damayan Migrant Workers Association says the organization will continue to conduct their “Know Your Rights” training – to empower domestic workers and advocate for women’s rights on the East Coast.