Court orders State to justify procedure on pregnant migrant workers

The High Court ordered the State to explain within 90 days why it has not cancelled its “procedure for dealing with pregnant migrant workers”, which forces women to choose between their source of livelihood and their right to bear children

On 22 April 2007, the High Court of Justice issued an order nisi, which instructed the State to explain within 90 days why it does not intend to cancel its “procedure for dealing with pregnant migrant workers”.

The court order was issued in response to a petition submitted to the High Court more than a year ago by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), The Hotline for Migrant Workers, Kav La`Oved, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, and NA’‘AMAT. According to the current procedure, which was introduced by the Ministry of the Interior, a migrant worker who is 6 months` pregnant or more loses her Israeli work permit. She can obtain a residency permit, which does not entitle her to work, for up until three months following the expected date of childbirth. At the end of that period she and her baby must leave the country immediately. It is hard to exaggerate the draconian nature of this demand, especially considering the fact that Israel has openly decided to base the home care sector – the largest employment sector in Israel for migrant workers – almost entirely on the workforce of young foreign women of childbearing age.

The petitioning organizations welcomed the fact that the court acknowledged the extenuating factors that render the principled petition worthy of deliberation. Namely, the fact that the petition was submitted on behalf of women who belong to the most weakened sector of society and concerns the violation of their basic right to parenthood. Attorney Yuval Livnat from Kav La`Oved, who is representing the six petitioning organizations, argued that as a result of the procedure many of the women are left with no choice but to undergo an abortion as the only means of avoiding deportation. The petitioning organizations further expressed the hope that the court will not endorse a procedure that places an impossible choice before the women: either lose their livelihood, after having paid such a high price to work in Israel, or deny themselves the right to bring a child into the world.

last updated : 28/05/07

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Categories: The Right to Equality, Women's Rights


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