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Women Migrant Workers Deserve More Protection

On Aug. 20 this year, Wang Daning finally got compensation amounting to 58,000 yuan (US$7,000) from her former employer, thanks to free legal aid from the Legal Research and Assistance Center for Women, attached to Peking University.

Wang, 21, suffered serious head injuries in a workshop accident in 1999 while working at a cardboard-box plant in Hebei Province, north China.

Her employer paid for part of her medical treatment, but refused to pay compensation.

Wang did not appeal to the government-backed arbitration institution for help until three years later.

"I pinned my hopes for compensation on my employer. But I did not know how to deal with the situation when he refused, as I received little education."

The legitimate interests and rights of Chinese migrant women workers are more vulnerable to violation than men's, an expert said Thursday.

Tan Shen, associate research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said women workers face more pressure than those of the opposite sex when their interests are infringed.

For example, women workers encounter more family-related problems than men do if they suffer injuries at work, Tan explained. Sometimes such an injury results in a woman's husband divorcing her.

In south China's Guangdong Province, home to about 6 million young women workers from other parts of the country, migrant women workers often find their rights and interests violated, such as being made to work 10 to 12 hours a day and having the payment of their wages delayed.

According to the center, the violation of the interests and rights of young migrant women workers has become the most outstanding issue of all concerning women.

An official of the All-China Women's Federation said lack of knowledge of the law and of self-protection is also responsible for such women's vulnerability.

A significant number of enterprises in China, mostly private firms, ignore the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women and the Labor Law, in their pursuit for profits.

Tan pointed out there is a long way to go before the laws and regulations are really followed to the letter by employers, and the whole society should be mobilized to establish certain mechanisms to protect the rights and interests of migrant women workers.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2003)

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