HIDDEN COSTS | 2016

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Of the roughly 15,000 migrant domestic workers entering the UK each year on special labor visas, an untold number are subjected to brutal, restrictive work regimens and frequently experience abuse, exploitation, discrimination, racism and social exclusion. The unregulated nature of working in private household, combined with gender-based and racial discrimination means this workforce are particularly vulnerable to exploitative practices which remain largely hidden from view in the invisible economy of domestic migrant labour.

Hidden costs was a collaboration between Kate and a group of female Domestic Migrant Workers in who had experienced discrimination and abuse in their employment, delivered in partnership with the Kanlungan Alliance of Filipino Organisations 

Though a series of workshop, these women were supported to use photography and multimedia to explore self-representation and storytelling, deciding what personal histories and experiences they would like to make ‘visible’. Their shared stories as domestic workers explore the feminised and private spheres of London and other global cities, and provide important alternative narratives to dominant masculinised discourses around workers’ rights.  

As collective objective of the project, the work seeks to expose the violence embedded in the sector, from the individual acts of their employers to the structural inequalities of the labour market which sustains these abuses.  The resulting resources and advocacy tools are an important reminder to political and public audiences of the importance of female domestic migrant workers’ engagement in the implementation of any policies or initiatives designed to improve employment conditions and legal rights for migrant workers.

The work produced forms part of a wider campaign to raise awareness on the urgency for the implementation of necessary legislation to ensure that the rights in the 1998 overseas domestic worker visa are restored and applied to domestic workers in diplomatic households.

Learn more about the campaign here