Gov't to allow pregnant migrant workers to give birth in Thailand

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Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Illegal female migrant workers who get pregnant while working in Thailand would be allowed to stay and give birth here, under a proposal by the Department of Employment, and their babies could stay legally with their mothers, directorgeneral Prawit Khiangphol said yesterday.

However, he did not say when the change would be put into practice.

The news follows strong criticism of a recent announcement that migrant women will be repatriated to give birth in their countries of origin before returning to work, leaving their children at home. Nongovernment groups said the move would put the lives of hundreds of Burmese women at risk every year if they were forced to return to their homeland while pregnant.

Prawit said the government eventually plans to allow female migrant workers whose nationalities have been verified and who are allowed to work in Thailand to give birth here and receive full maternity assistance under the social security scheme. Children born to such mothers would be certified by the embassies of their parents' home countries and allowed to stay with their parents until they return home at the end of their employment contracts.

Children born to mothers living and working here temporarily because their nationalities have not been verified would be able to enter schools in Thailand and receive public health services, but both parents and children would still need to be verified.

It has been estimated that more than 100,000 illegal migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos living and working in Thailand could benefit from the proposal once it is put into effect.

Foreign labourers working in Thailand under governmenttogovernment contracts after the Asean Economic Community is launched in 2015 will be required to give birth in their countries of origin before coming to Thailand, but no regulations are in place to stop pregnant women coming to Thailand.

Prawit said the proposal and new regulations could help reduce human trafficking and the exploitation of child labour.

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