12 Mar 2014 10:06
Looking down upon blue waters and tiny islands, on a plane from Indonesia to Singapore, Istiana will soon exchange a world she knows for one she doesn’t. She’s a domestic worker – and the moment she stepped on the plane her life changed forever.
Each year, 700,000 migrant workers leave Indonesia for countries like Hong Kong, Qatar, and Malaysia. The overwhelming majority are women, and like Istiana, most are domestic workers. Indonesian domestic workers form one of the largest labour diasporas in the world. They are also one of the most exploited. According to the ILO, "75 percent of Indonesian female workers endure “isolation, underpayment, long working hours, forced labour, human trafficking and violence”. Their stories are never far from the news. Each week dozens of articles appear, detailing difficult working conditions, excessive debts, and human rights abuses.
This project investigates the movement of migrants from Indonesia to Singapore, one of the busiest migratory pathways in Southeast Asia. It follows three different women at various stages of their journey: from training centres in Indonesia, to daily life in Singapore, and the return home.
The project is enriched with in-depth interviews, video reportage, and photographs taken over a 4 month period. It weaves the experience of migrant workers with the people they meet during their journeys: social workers, employers, recruiting agencies, and government officials.