Migrant workers in Taiwan plan flash mob dance to demand better rights

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Migrant workers dancing at the Taipei Railway Station.

Migrant workers dancing at the Taipei Railway Station. (By Central News Agency)

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Migrant worker rights groups in Taiwan are set to hold a flash mob dance at Taipei Main Station on Sunday to call for better rights for foreign migrant workers, especially female caregivers, in the country.

The event, now in its fifth year, is to show solidarity with the One Billion Rising campaign, a global campaign launched by playwright and activist Eve Ensler in 2012 to highlight violence against women, said Gilda Banugan, chairperson of Migrante International's Taiwan Chapter, an organization that fights for the rights of Filipino migrant workers.

The global campaign, which usually lasts from Feb. 14 through March 8, invites women around the world to dance together to call for justice and raise awareness of sexual violence and other forms of abuse against women.

Migrant workers, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, will stage five dance performances at Sunday's event, including "We are Beautiful" and "Break the Chain," Banugan told CNA Saturday.

"Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, and contagious and it breaks the rules ... Dance joins us and pushes us to go further and that is why it's at the center of One Billion Rising," Ensler, best known for her 1996 play "The Vagina Monologues," was quoted as saying on the 2018 One Billion Rising website.
Banugan said migrant workers will use Sunday's gathering to urge Taiwan to include foreign domestic caregivers in its Labor Standards Act, abolish the brokerage system, ensure mandatory days off for caregivers, and enroll foreign caregivers in Taiwan's labor insurance program.

"It's very unfair that we are here to work and contribute to Taiwan's economic growth, but we are not included in the Labor Standards Act," said Banugan, who is also a domestic helper in Taiwan.

"We also hope that the Philippine government will take more action to improve the rights of caregivers in Taiwan," she said.

She noted that as of December 2017 there were more than 370,000 female migrant workers in Taiwan and said many of them are victims of contract violations, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Jointly organized by Migrante International's Taiwan Chapter and the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia; ATKI), Sunday's flash mob will begin at 1 p.m. in the main concourse of Taipei Main Station. (By Christie Chen)