Human rights abuses across Asia are occurring on a daily basis with human rights defenders often at risk of harm.  Foreign governments around the world continue to fail in challenging the disastrous human rights abuses in countries such as Burma, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.  Additionally, economic disparities, food insecurity and widespread poverty pose threats to basic human rights for tens of millions of people in the region.

AWARE seeks to break the silence surrounding the sorry state of human rights and labor protections and to implement measures across Asia that brings basic protections to all people.

Key Abuses: China

  • Amnesty International reports that “an estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial, and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances.”
  • The Chinese government censors the press, internet, print publications, and academic research, and justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve “social stability.”
  • There is still no law protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Per Human Rights Watch, “women’s reproductive rights and access to reproductive health remain severely curtailed under China’s population planning regulations.”
  • A China Labor Watch investigative report “exposes a set of 20 legal and ethical labor violations that include hiring discrimination, detaining workers’ personal IDs, lack of physical exams despite hazardous working conditions, workers required to sign training forms despite little or no safety training, a lack of protective equipment, ill-maintained production machinery, fire safety concerns, incomplete or nonexistent labor contracts, overtime hours of up to 120 hours per month, unpaid wages, underpaid social insurance, frequent rotation between day and night shifts, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, illegal resignation procedures, abusive management, audit fraud, and a lack of effective grievance channels and union representation.”

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Thailand

  • Child labor remains commonplace in Thailand, including in the shrimp and seafood processing sector, with the majority of child laborers in this sector between the ages of 15 and 17
  • The United States Department of Labor reports that “children are also trafficked to and within Thailand for commercial sexual exploitation and labor exploitation. They are trafficked to Thailand primarily from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos, and from within Thailand, for commercial sexual exploitation.”
  • Criminal law enforcement is hampered by systematic bribery and corruption, with law enforcement officials involved in brothels or karaoke bars, including those purchasing sex with underage girls. These officials are also believed to be involved with human smuggling networks.
  • The Asia Pacific Institute says that 56% of Filipinas and 64% of Indian and Pakistani women had experienced sexual violence by an intimate in a study interviewing 143 women

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: India

  • Amnesty International reports that women and girls face persistent discrimination and the threat of rape and other acts of violence, particularly in the north
  • It’s been reported that Bangladeshi immigrants working for households in Delhi face many forms of discrimination that also extends to the issue of sanitation, as workers are barred from using the toilets inside the houses they clean.
  • In December 2013, India reinstated a colonial-era law banning gay sex.
  • Per Amnesty International, the lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, with migrant workers reported working regularly for between 15 to 18 hours without a day off.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Vietnam

  • According to Human Rights Watch, tens of thousands of people detained by the police in Vietnam for using drugs are held without due process for years, forced to work for little or no pay, and suffer torture and physical violence
  • Women in Vietnam face gender discrimination, including pervasive pregnancy-based discrimination ranging from employment termination to denial of statutory maternity benefits
  • The Workers Rights Consortium reports that Vietnamese workers face serious safety and health hazards on the job, many of which are present in the operations and supply chains of foreign buyers and manufacturers
  • Interviews with employees in March 2013 at four apparel factories near Ho Chi Minh City found that working hours at all four exceeded the legal limit.
  • A 2012 study by the VGCL’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions found that wages for workers in the footwear industry averaged only US$124 per month

Specific Examples of Abuse: