Annotation: Suzuki, Nobue. 2002. Gendered Surveillance and Sexual Violence in Filipina Pre-migration Experiences

Suzuki, Nobue. 2002. Gendered Surveillance and Sexual Violence in Filipina Pre-migration Experiences to Japan, in Gender Politics in the Asia-Pacific Region, pp. 99-119, eds Brenda S.A. Yeoh, Peggy Teo, Shirlena Huang. Online: Taylor & Francis

Using the stories of six Filipino women married and currently living with Japanese men, selected out of over 100 interviewees between 1993-2001 in the Tokyo and Nagoya areas, Suzuki concentrates on the pre-departure experiences of Filipino transmigrants, to demonstrate the “experiences of gendered surveillance and sexual violence,” which led them to move to Japan as entertainers (99). Departing from other literature on Filipino women migration, usually seen as part of “family strategy” (Osteria 1994), Suzuki looks at the cases in which Filipino women “actually feel compelled” to leave the Philippines to flee from distressing conditions and affective ties such as (1) the domination of their fathers, (2) communal scrutiny through gossip, (3) infidel husbands, and, (4) domestic rape. These conditions also include realities, in which fellow women are complicit with the androcentric social organization in the Philippines (103). As Suzuki shows in her article, Japan has offered a haven for Filipino women who have actively sought to escape certain gender and sexual norms in the Philippine society (e.g. notions of virginity, submissiveness to the male members of the family, etc). Through labour mobility, Filipino women “have strategically made use of the resources, especially human capital, available to them to remap their agency at home and in diaspora” (114). These cases also serve as reminders that women are not merely “economic pilgrims,” but also have individual agency. Thus, the migration of Filipino women to Japan is not done only due to passive chance, but sometimes also due to active resistance. As “gambler-migrants,” they take responsibility for their own life trajectories (115), and their migration was facilitated by the conscious maximization of opportunities that they encountered. Finally, to understand the migration of women to Japan, Suzuki concludes by affirming Clifford’s (1997) suggestion to expand the analytical frame of studying both the “routes” and the “roots” of women’s life in migration (i.e. their lives prior to moving abroad).

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