In the past decade tackling ‘abusive recruitment’ has catapulted to the top of international migration governance agendas, largely in the slipstream of anti-trafficking advocacy. In this context, the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) aims to ‘facilitate fair and ethical recruitment’ while ‘safeguarding the conditions that ensure decent work’. However, recruiters’ responsibility for systemic and discriminatory racialised and gendered employment patterns remain largely ignored by policymakers, despite non-discrimination being a fundamental labour right. This paper responds by drawing on a qualitative research study conducted with migrant domestic worker placement agencies in Jordan, Lebanon, and Bangladesh between 2013 and 2015. The paper shows that agencies in Amman and Beirut deliberately recruited and supplied Bangladeshi women as the cheapest available domestic workers. I argue that such structural discrimination impacted on Bangladeshi women’s position in the labour market, including on their pay and ability to organise. The paper concludes that without tackling this issue, private sector recruitment will remain a substantial obstacle to the advancement of a rights-based and socially fair approach to the global regulation of worker migration.
- Domestic workers