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Intersectional Migration Regime Analysis: Explaining Gender-Selective Labor Emigration Regulations

Part of the Migrationsgesellschaften book series (MIGRAGS)


This article proposes a framework for an intersectional migration regime analysis. It embarks from the puzzle that a number of labor-sending governments have gender-biased emigration regulations, such as banning certain groups of women from going abroad. The article argues that this is not a simple policy-incoherence, but the phenomenon can only be understood by looking at the interconnectedness of gender regimes and migration regimes. Such gender-biased emigration restrictions express traditional forms of gender knowledge that understand the protection of women as a national obligation. An intersectional analysis adds further dimensions and shows that also class (low degree of formal qualification) and age (young, old) are referred to identify ‘vulnerable’ groups in need of protection. It is argued that such a migration regime type enacts emigration control through protection.


  • Migration regime
  • Gender
  • Labor migration
  • Asia
  • Intersectionality
  • Gender knowledge
  • Migration-development nexus
  • Migration policies
  • India

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  1. 1.

    In this chapter several terms are used that refer to gender and migration policies: ‘gendered migration policies’ or ‘gender-selective migration policies’ means that there is a difference according to gender without indicating the impacts; ‘gender biased’ means that for one gender, in most cases women, the policies have more negative or restrictive effects.

  2. 2.

    Protectors of Emigrants in India are responsible for granting emigration clearance to intending emigrants who hold an ECR passport. Their offices are based in ten Indian cities that are major migration hubs (Delhi, Cochin, Mumbai, Trivandrum, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Raibareli). The Protector General of Emigrants, based in New Delhi under the Ministry of External Affairs, is the overall responsible authority to protect the interests of workers going abroad and in particular the registration of and oversight over recruitment agencies.

  3. 3.

    The 18 Emigration Clearance Required states are (as of December 2016): (1) Afghanistan, (2) Bahrain, (3) Indonesia, (4) Iraq [presently suspended], (5) Jordan, (6) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, (7) Kuwait, (8) Lebanon, (9) Libya [presently suspended], (10) Malaysia, (11) Oman, (12) Qatar, (13) South Sudan, (14) Sudan, (15) Syria, (16) Thailand, (17) United Arab Emirates, and (18) Yemen [presently suspended] ( Accessed 20 Jan 2017). The list changes slightly from time to time and countries such as Brunei or South Sudan are on and off the list; also clearances for Libya and Yemen have not always been suspended.

  4. 4.

    In the case of India it is not the federal government that declares migration a development strategy, but certain states such as Punjab in the North or Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu in the South, in which the number of emigrants is comparatively high and remittances and in-country investment by the ‘diaspora’ (in India named PIO, People of Indian Origin) are economically relevant.

  5. 5.

    For a list of the currently 18 countries see footnote 3.


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Correspondence to Helen Schwenken .

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Schwenken, H. (2018). Intersectional Migration Regime Analysis: Explaining Gender-Selective Labor Emigration Regulations. In: Pott, A., Rass, C., Wolff, F. (eds) Was ist ein Migrationsregime? What Is a Migration Regime?. Migrationsgesellschaften. Springer VS, Wiesbaden.

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