IOM X Launches New Video to Help Prevent Exploitation of Domestic Workers

Thailand - Over 250 people attended the premiere of Open Doors: An IOM X Production on 25 May in Jakarta. The video is aimed at preventing the exploitation of domestic workers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The message to employers is that a positive relationship with their domestic worker, based on trust and communication, helps create a happy home.

“Employers are the change-makers when it comes to stopping the exploitation of domestic workers. The aim of Open Doors is to encourage them to take the lead in creating happy home environments where exploitation can’t flourish. Making sure their domestic workers have a weekly day off, to spend where and how they please, as well as a way to communicate regularly with family and friends, are both steps in the right direction,” said Tara Dermott, Program Leader of IOM X.

Domestic workers are employed in private homes, providing services such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking and caring for children and the elderly. Globally, one in every 13 female wage earners is employed in domestic work. Of the estimated 52 million domestic workers worldwide, 41 percent are from Asia Pacific. It is estimated that 1.9 million of the domestic workers in Asia Pacific are being exploited, according to the ILO’s 2014 report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour.

"We know that families and societies depend on their remittances as a significant input into household and national accounts. But even though migration provides economic opportunities for some women and a financial safety net for their families, many women are highly vulnerable to unfair treatment, exploitation, abuse and different forms of violence. This is especially the case for domestic and care workers,” said Roberta Clarke, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific and Representative in Thailand.

Live-in domestic workers who have experienced exploitation have reported low pay or no pay at all, excessive working hours (such as being on call for 24 hours a day), no weekly day off, living in poor and unsafe conditions, inflated agency fees, debt-bondage, forced labour and forced confinement. Severe forms of exploitation include deprivation of food and water, sexual abuse, rape, denial of health care services, being surveilled by cameras, having to ask to use the bathroom, and physical and psychological abuse. 

“The United States remains committed to promoting dignity, freedom, human rights, and wellbeing of people around the world,” said US Deputy Chief of Mission Brian McFeeters at the launch. “Human trafficking impedes health, economic growth, rule of law, women’s empowerment, and lifetime prospects for young people. We are proud to support this regional campaign to effectively address human trafficking and ensure protection of people throughout ASEAN, including domestic workers who are at higher risk for exploitation because the abuse can take place behind closed doors.”  

Open Doors is a three-part drama about families and their domestic workers. Based in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, the three stories follow the challenges of each busy family, as they balance demanding work schedules, household duties and raising children, with the help of their domestic workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. It was produced in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ASEAN Secretariat, UN Women and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and in consultation with government partners across the ASEAN region.

The video is viewable at

IOM X is an IOM campaign to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking. The campaign is produced in partnership with USAID.

For further information please contact Mia Barrett at IOM X in Bangkok. Tel: +66.847052114, Email: