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A Filipino woman at work - 

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Doug Krizner: Trade issues are always a thorny subject. In the Philippines, the government is grappling with a problem involving its largest export: people. It's banned workers from going to Jordan. As Stacey Vanek-Smith reports, that's because of abuses Filipinos have experienced there.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: About 8 million Filipinos work overseas. The money they send home makes up more than 13 percent of the Philippines' GDP. But many of these migrants are reporting abuses: 14-hour workdays, withheld wages, and even physical assault.

Cornell University labor law expert Lance Compa says their visas make them vulnerable.

Lance Compa: They go to work for a single family, and they're basically indentured to that family.

Abuses like these are common throughout Asia and the Middle East, says Nisha Varia with Human Rights Watch. She suspects the Philippines is hoping to pressure Jordan to put protections in place. And, she says, Jordan will feel the squeeze.

Nisha Varia: They've become so dependent on migrant workers who take care of their children and clean their house. It feels like a lot of pressure to them when these workers are no longer available.

Varia says a better solution would be to include domestic workers in international labor laws.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith