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Brokered Migration for Domestic Work and Construction Work in Ghana and Myanmar: Examining the Relevance of the Slavery and Trafficking Discourse

CHAINS

Principal Investigator: Dr Priya Deshingkar, University of Sussex

Co-Investigator: Professor Mariama Awumbila, University of Ghana

Migrants are often portrayed as victims without agency, their migration through brokers is labelled as trafficking and their working conditions as tantamount to slavery. Children, and especially girls, are constructed by policy makers and development practitioners as incapable of making decisions and assessing migration risks themselves and their migration is almost always described as trafficking if intermediaries are involved. This project will build on extensive research on migration into low-skilled occupations in Ghana and Myanmar to understand the infrastructure of brokerage and how migrants view the process. The study will provide much needed insights into the functioning of brokerage and aid the governments of both countries in identifying points of vulnerability to exploitation so that more effective policies and interventions can be designed in accordance with SDG 8. It will yield critical information on the nexus between policy, culture, brokerage and poverty which is needed to understand why brokerage exists and how it impacts on migrants and their families.

In both countries two rural locations and one urban location will be chosen to study the different stages of brokerage. In Ghana these will be the northern region from where girls migrate to the city, Accra-Tema where rural girls stay for some time before migrating internationally and Nkoranza in Brong Ahafo which is well known for migration for construction work to Libya. In Myanmar the research will be conducted in Mon state which is the main source location for construction workers in Thailand; Kayin state which is an important origin for domestic workers migrating internationally and Yangon from where rural migrant women and girls migrate onward to Thailand, Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia to work as domestic workers and formally registered recruitment agencies are required by law to based either there or in Mandalay.

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