A novel coronavirus was first identified based on a cluster of pneumonia cases reported in Wuhan,
Hubei Province, China, in late December 2019. In January, the first officially recorded COVID-19 case identified outside China was in Thailand. Thailand stands with 3,085 cumulative confirmed cases, of which 2,968 cases have recovered and 58 have died. (Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, 2020).
According to Thailand’s situation updates by the Emergency Operations Center, Department of Disease Control, the total number of cases officially reported as of 4rd of June 2020 for all nationalities was 3,085 cases, of which 2,747 cases are Thai, 56 are Burmese, 20 are stateless Rohingya, 4 are Vietnamese, 2 are Laos, 3 are Cambodian, 240 are Others and 14 are Unknown. Although identifying only 82 migrant cases in total (CCSA, 2020), on 19 June 2020, Myanmar found 23 positive COVID-19 cases among migrants deported from Thailand (The Irrawaddy, 2020).
Although a number of reports on migrants have recently been released, these have mostly been based on secondary data and stakeholder perspectives, whereas this study aims to give voice to migrants through primary data collection and seeks to provide migrants an opportunity to directly addresses their struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, this Rapid Gender Analysis utilizes a qualitative methodology to identify the differing impact on male and female migrants.
Being away from home during this pandemic, migrants in Thailand are likely to lack access to support services. Furthermore, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect migrant women disproportionately due to harmful gender norms of the host country.
- Approximately, migrants lose 50% of their income due to COVID-19 pandemic; female migrants are impacted by cuts to working hours more than male migrants.
- Indebtedness among migrants is remarkably rising due to job losses, working hours being cut and accumulated debt from shark loan charging 20-35% interest rate.
- Employers do not put enough effort to roll out health and safety measures in response to COVID-19 Fishermen’s housewives are among the most vulnerable because of their tendency to lack documentation, COVID-19 has threated their family’s health and well-being.
- Female migrant’s experiences, especially those with pre-existing health conditions and documentations find the quality of health services in Thailand deteriorating.
- Pregnant migrant women are disproportionately affected by the fear of the virus toppled with traditional gender responsibility.
- Border closure causes frustration and financial burden for migrants, especially pregnant women who desperately wish to return home due to job loss and health issues.
- Existing voluntary repatriation programs are neither affordable, inclusive nor gender-responsive; migrants without considering diverse vulnerabilities such as age, sex, employment status, reproductive health and documentation.
- Migrants’ voice out their emergency needs including PPEs, food supplies and migration policy change to ease the difficulty of finding an employer.