345.6 The exceptional migrants?: The regularization of migrant domestic workers in Turkey

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Ayse AKALIN , Humanities and Social Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, Maslak İstanbul, Turkey
Since 1990’s, Turkey has become a country of immigration, with domestic work emerging as a major realm that attracts migration. Currently Turkey lacks a migration law that would grant  migrants some kind of regular status and a series of social rights. This situation consequently renders an overall framework that reproduces and fosters irregularity.  Domestic work however presents an exception to this larger system of governance by ambiguity.  Starting in 2007, the government introduced a policy to semi-legalize specifically domestic workers.  Under the sponsorship of an employer, a migrant domestic worker is permitted to extend her tourist visa, valid for one or two months,  and turn it into a residence permit that is valid up to a year.  Although the current legislation requires the foreigners to have work and residence permits to acquire legal status, this semi-legalisation via residence permits renders domestic workers an exceptional status among migrants. The reasons behind this exception are multifold. On the one hand, there is the implicit recognition that the migrant domestic workers have presented a remedy to the problem of care deficit. On the other hand, the fact that they are exclusively women who are employed by families and in the security of homes altogether make migrant domestics less of a “threat” in comparison with other communities and more “apt” to legalise, if the boundaries are well-defined and asserted. By focusing on this exceptional practice of the semi-legalization of migrant domestics, this paper aims to scrutinize how the feminization of migration into domestic work, that occurs in a larger context that is adverse to immigration, should be analysed.