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Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) FACTSHEET

The prevalence of slavery and human trafficking in the Philippines is inextricable from broader issues of poverty, inequality and the remittance economy. Traffickers lure people in with the promise of an opportunity (a "job" overseas or an "education" in the city) that many victims cannot afford to refuse.


Watch Marie's story on surviving human trafficking and domestic servitude in Syria, and read the facts on Overseas Filipino Workers in the Factsheet below.


Download the factsheet as a PDF and click on the underlined words to view their sources:

OFW Factsheet
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Download PDF • 163KB

Learn about Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OSEC) in the Philippines here


Full text:

  • There are 2.2 million overseas filipino workers (OFWs)

  • OFWs constitute almost 2% of the entire Filipino population

  • 97% of them are contracted workers, while 3% do not have contracts

DESTINATIONS

  • Middle East 55%

  • East Asia 19%

  • S.E. and S. Central Asia 9%

  • Europe 8%

  • Americas 7%

PROFILE

  • Sex: 56% are female and 44% are male

  • Age: 42% are between 25 and 34 years old

OCCUPATIONS

  • 37% domestic workers, cleaners, porters

  • 19% service and sales workers

  • 14% plant and machine operators and assemblers

  • 9% professionals; 1% managers

REMITTANCES

  • In 2019, total remittances came to $30 billion or 8% of the Philippines’ economy

  • OFWs are regarded as modern-day heroes (bagong bayani) due to their economic contribution

  • In 2018, the average remittance per female OFW was PhP 86m - 60% of that of male

RISKS & VULNERABILITIES

  • Vulnerable to trafficking through illegal recruitment practices: fraudulent contracts, hidden fees etc.

  • Shipping crewmen (25% of global merchant crews): Highly vulnerable ‘confined onboard, with no visibility to the outside world and with national laws having no jurisdiction over them and therefore offering no protection’

  • Construction workers: Highly susceptible to involuntary servitude, often subjected to ‘the withholding of passports and other personal documents, pay withholdings in the form of “forced savings” and overtime

  • Domestic workers: Inherently vulnerable hidden from view in unregulated working space

COVID-19

  • 420,000 repatriated since beginning of pandemic, with 60,000 more expected in 2021

  • $840 million fall in remittances between March and June 2020 (compared to same period in 2019)

  • 80,000 working in shipping industry were stranded on ships with expired contracts in June 2020

  • 88,000 stranded in Saudi Arabia, with some forced to sell their blood and organs after losing jobs

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