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Immigrant Working Women Take to the Streets to Fight Against Imperialist Exploitation

Immigrant Working Women Take to the Streets to Fight Against Imperialist Exploitation

Statement of GABRIELA-USA on the occasion of International Women’s Day

8 March 2013 Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USA,

On March 8th, International Working Women’s Day, GABRIELA USA will join with multi-ethnic women and from im/migrant and working class communities across the US to demand an end to the suffering and violence afflicting Filipina women and children amidst heightening contradictions of a global imperialist system. From coast to coast, member organizations from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Washington D.C. will take their demands to the streets and call for living wage jobs, access to health care and education, protections from violence against migrant communities and as basic human rights.

After two years under the Aquino administration, conditions for the Filipino people continue to worsen. Neoliberal policies of both the US-Obama administration and the Philippine-Aquino administration aggravates conditions for Filipino women. The Philippines has a staggering 10.5% unemployment rate (IBON Foundation, 2013), while women make up the largest portion of government-tallied unemployed citizens in the Philippines.

Under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan program, which seeks to suppress the people’s resistance to intensifying poverty, an increasing number of women and children are becoming victims of severe human rights violations. In 2012 alone, there have been 7 reported cases of rape of women and children by military personnel, attempted murder, kidnapping, enforced disappearances, political killings and other violations of the rights against women and children.

Barug Katawhan leader and typhoon Pablo survivor, Cristina Morales Jose was gunned down by an unidentified motorcycle riding assassin in Baganga, Davao Oriental on March 4 around 6pm, just 4 days into Women’s History month. Cristina Morales Jose earlier exposed the food blockade and militarization of relief operations conducted by 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, under the U.S.-backed Aquino administration. They were found hoarding supplies for typhoon survivors. If it were not for the large-scale logging and mining being done by multi-national corporations in the first place, Typhoon Pablo victims would not have experienced the level of devastation it reached. This neglect by the government before and after the typhoon is deplorable. GABRIELA USA is appalled at the continued attacks by the Aquino regime continuing in the legacy of his predecessors, who have done nothing but capitulate to US imperialist interests and multinational corporations at the expense of the rights and livelihood of the Filipino people.

Worsening poverty has forced the migration of Filipinas to work overseas and often find themselves working jobs where they are vulnerable to violence and exploitation. In the US, government policies and free trade laws, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the soon-to-be Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fail to protect Filipino overseas workers. Many Filipina migrant workers in the US, such as domestic helpers, caregivers and airport workers, are subjugated to low-wage contract work often without health benefits, worker protections, living wages or become victim to illegal labor practices and human trafficking.

Like Filipinos, Latinos also experience similar patterns of forced migration. Just last February 14, the day that women and communities joined the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women by dancing in the streets, a 66-year-old mother and Latina ally of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) in San Francisco was detained for speaking out against deportations at a Senate hearing on immigration reform where no Latino immigrant was given a chance to speak.

“This situation is a reminder that the struggles and root causes perpetuated by U.S. imperialist policies has forced migrants out of their own countries and have contributed greatly to the U.S. economy, yet are still treated as though they are criminal and less than human. We must put an end to this kind of economic violence afflicting our immigrant communities,” states Valerie Francisco, GABRIELA-USA Chairperson. Furthermore, despite the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which gives protections to survivors of domestic violence, it is still short of providing protections for immigrant and undocumented women.

As low-income and migrant women are facing a backlash of budget cuts geared towards health care and services to victims of domestic violence, it is clear now more than ever that both the U.S. and Philippine governments are failing to protect the safety and well-being of Filipinas and their families. GABRIELA-USA calls on Filipinas and allies everywhere to join the struggle to stop the economic violence of Filipina women and children perpetuated by U.S. imperialism. We must continue to fight for more living-wage jobs and quality healthcare for families in the Philippines and abroad. We must address cuts to education, healthcare, and social services that support our families through these worsening economic times. We must be steadfast in demanding justice for all victims of state-sponsored violence and resist U.S. military intervention and Aquino’s puppetry.

Stop the imperialist exploitation and oppression of women and children! No to U.S. Military occupation over our land and our bodies!

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