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Cambodian Domestic Workers in Malaysia: Challenges in Labor Migration Policy and Potential Mechanisms for Protection




Elizabeth A. Léone


This paper will look at the challenges facing young Cambodian women who migrate to
Malaysia as domestic workers. Section I will discuss the causes leading to the labor shortage in
Malaysia and the difficulties in regulating this particular informal sector. The recruitment agency
system for Cambodians is also detailed as well as the current working conditions for Cambodians
in Malaysia. Section II will look at current legal mechanisms in place for workers, covering the
domestic laws of Cambodia and Malaysia as well as international covenants, including a detailed
analysis of the brand new Convention on Domestic Workers, adopted in June of 2011. Section
III provides a case study of the Philippines where government regulation of the labor migration
system has led to increases in remittances, worker protection and higher remuneration. Section
IV concludes with recommendations for strengthening the labor migration system for
Cambodians working in Malaysia.

Number of pages


Place published

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

File Attachments



Domestic Workers, Malaysia, Cambodia

Economic sectors

Occupations in services - Domestic work

Content types

Policy analysis, Support initiatives, and Statistics on work and life conditions

Target groups

Policymakers, Researchers, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Regional relevance

Spheres of activity

Gender and sexuality studies and Social work