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					             Motherhood & Social Networks

Female Dominican Transnational Migration to the Netherlands




                          Maria Luz Gutiérrez
                 Msc International Development Studies
                       University of Amsterdam




                                  1
                                    By Maria Luz Gutiérrez
                                      Student Nº: 5853141
Final Thesis for Msc in International Development Studies
                                  University of Amsterdam
                                Supervisor: Annelou Ypeij
                          Second Reader: Hulya Altinyelken
                               Submission Date: July 2009


             2
Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge and extend my sincere gratitude for the intellectual support, inputs
and encouragement to think critically to my supervisor from Cedla Dr. Annelou Ypeij and
Diana López, from UN-INSTRAW. I also wish to thank Hulya Altinyelken for taking the role
of second reader of my work.

During the time of fieldwork in the Dominican Republic and Amsterdam, I would like to
particularly express my gratitude to Robertico, his family and locals from Juan de Herrera. I
would also like to thank Bridget Wooding and Alicia Sandro Blasco from Flacso-RD.
Additionally I would like to thank all the respondents for their patience and for the time they
took to participate in this research. I would like also to remark my appreciation to Casa
Migrante, because without the opportunity of being a member of the volunteering group I would
not have been able to fulfil this research.

I would also like to give special credit to my family, who have given me moral, intellectual,
financial and practical support, particularly Michael Davis, Luz Gil, Jose Gutiérrez, Julia Gil
and Soraya Martín. I also owe particular thanks to Antonia Maks for the dedicating so much of
her time to help edit the work. Last but not least, I wish to thank all my friends from the
University of Amsterdam, who have encouraged me throughout the work.




                                               3
Abstract

Female transnational migration of Dominican single and divorced mothers from a
matrifocal background is understood through this research to be a livelihood strategy, in
order to fulfil their role as breadwinners and caregivers. This transnational migration
creates a transnational household where in the household of origin a reorganisation of
tasks takes place. Based on the nature of these transnational households, responsibilities
of the migrants are passed on to the other female household members, usually to the
mother and/or sister. This leads to the creation of new ways of upbringing and caring for
the children of the migrants, and as a result of the physical separation involved the role
of transnational motherhood is established. In this realm of migration female kin social
networks play a crucial role in maintaining the transnational household, which is
facilitated by means of regular communication between the family and the migrants.
These networks are also crucial for the entire process of migrating, covering emotional,
practical and financial support, together with the transmission of knowledge from one
country to another. The main goal of these female mother migrants travelling to the
Netherlands is the wellbeing of their children. For that reason remittances play an
important role in the life of the families of the household in the place of origin, and of
the migrants themselves in the host country. Ultimately remittances is the cause for
some women of my research to enter the sex sector in the Netherlands, in order to be
able to send money home to cover basic needs, such as food, schooling, bills and
medicines.




                                            4
Contents

       Acknowledgments……………………………………………………………. 3

       Abstract …………………………………………………………………….. 4

I.    Introduction …………………………………………………………………... 7

II.   Background and context …………………………………………………….... 10

III. Methodology …………………………………………………………………. 15
      Proposal Changes for a Better Result
      Time Line
      Some other Practicalities and Difficulties
      Some Ethical Concerns

IV. Theoretical Framework ………………………………………………………. 24
       I. Migration as a livelihood strategy.
             - Including a Gender Perspective
             - The Feminisation of Migration
             - Migration related to Sex Work

         II. Transnational Migration
              - Social Networks
              - The Transnational Household
              - Transnational Motherhood
              - Chains of Care
              - Remittances

        III. The Social Impact of Transnational Migration on Gender
             Norms & Relations between Women & Men.

V.    Five Cases Studied: “Female migration is our daily bread in my country”…. 44
          I. Migration as a Livelihood Strategy:
            “Sometimes migration is everything for Dominican women”

         II. Transnational Households:
            “I work in Amsterdam, but my home and heart is in Santo Domingo”

        III. Remittances:
            “Money earned over there is worth more over here!”

VI. Female-led Migration from the Community of Juan de Herrera to the
    Netherlands: “Without them, I wouldn’t have gone”…………………………. 69
        I. Migration Related to Sex Work and the Web of Female Social
           Networks.
       II. Household, Transnational Motherhood and Transnational Sex
           Workers

VII. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………. 85


                                         5
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………... 95

Appendices: ………………………………………………………………………… 101

   Appendix I:
   - Five cases studied: Female migrant and their household
   - Table with the main characteristics of the five female migrants

   Appendix II:
   - List of interviewees and informants for the case of Juan de Herrera

   Appendix III:
   - Map of Juan de Herrera with households with a close female member abroad.
   - Map of Caño Fistol (a suburb of Juan de Herrera) with households of families
   with close female migrants abroad marked.

   Appendix IV:
   - Map of the Dominican Republic

   Appendix V:
   - Interview-questionnaire (translated from Spanish into English) with Dominican
   migrants in Amsterdam

   Appendix VI:
   - Interview-questionnaire (translated from Spanish into English) with Families in
   the Dominican Republic

   Appendix VII: Photo Gallery




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I. Introduction

         “When I was going to leave Santo Domingo my sister said to me: “it’s really
         hard to get by in the Dominican Republic…a single mother and feeding your
         children.” (Isabel, 40 year old migrant)1

During the last decades, in the wake of September 11th and given the political, social
and economic crises in Latin America and the Caribbean, combined with new policies
that tighten permits and visas to the United States, Europe has become an attractive
destination for people from Latin America. Consequently, there has been a high number
of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean among others to the Netherlands.
This number is growing rapidly and it is expected to reach 200.000 people by 2050.
Dominicans, together with Brazilians and Colombians represent an important group of
immigrants in the Netherlands. The Dominicans are an interesting group, since while
they are situated among the largest group of migrants, the country is minuscule when
compared with Brazil or Colombia. This migration has being within a context of global
tendencies and of the growth of disparities and dependencies between the South and the
North. Migration is seen to be a result of neo-liberal economies and structural
adjustment programmes applied in developing countries, which cause an increase in
unemployment, and thus a growth in poverty. A consequence of this is that many
households and individuals resort to migration as a livelihood strategy. Migration has
therefore become one of the major features of the 21st century, where it is now a
fundamental and an integral part of the economy of the sending and receiving countries.
Similarly important is, that this group of Dominican migrants in the Netherlands is
specifically characterised by and consisted of women, based in Amsterdam.

This female migration comes with ambiguities; on the one hand, there is an
improvement in the living conditions for the migrants and their families. On the other
hand however, migrants and their families have to face a family separation and
difficulties related to this, such as a restructuring of household tasks and new ways of
being a mother, defined here as transnational motherhood. This is key element since all
migrants from this research are single or divorced mothers with children in the
Dominican Republic. Remittances from the Dominican migrants are vital in their
relationships with their households in the communities of origin in the Dominican
Republic. The life in the household and communities of these women migrants undergo
a transformation as a result of these economic remittances and of the transmission of
knowledge through social networks. This is sometimes visible, such as better houses,
and sometimes not so visible, such a growth of responsibilities on the part of the female
relative of the migrant, such as the mother or sister, in taking care of the migrant’s
children, meaning sharing motherhood. In the particular case of the Dominican
Republic women are generally the main or only provider for their household, especially
in the cases of matrifocal households among the lower classes. Transnational migration
should be understood as a livelihood strategy, which is the only option for these women
to provide for their families, even though it encompasses many sacrifices for the
migrants and their relatives.

In this thesis, based on a qualitative multi-sited fieldwork research, I have set out to
analyse the experience and understanding of the transnational households of female

1
    Original in Appendix VII: 20


                                            7
Dominican migration to the Netherlands. I have acknowledged both ends of migration:
the migrant as well as their households in the place of origin. An important
characteristic of this study is that all the migrants studied are single or divorced mothers
with a matrifocal household background. These two characteristics have been key for
the analysis of the discourse on female Dominican migration, since the matrifocal
nature of the migrants’ families is most of the time also accompanied by the fact that the
women are single or divorced mothers. Yet, in defining them as single and divorced, I
do not want to imply their lack of agency or them being left alone. On the contrary,
these women have decided to migrate in order to be able to support their children, thus
becoming transnational mothers, and this is made possible thanks to their female
relatives who constitute the other members of the family households. Thus this female
migration of single or divorced mothers from matrifocal households is based on social
networks between female kin. The fieldwork research has been carried out in two
distinct stages. In the first stage the research was based in Amsterdam, where interviews
with female migrants from the Dominican Republic, as well as some of their friends and
relatives in Amsterdam, were carried out. In the second stage the research took placed in
the Dominican Republic, where I conducted interviews, accompanied by informal
conversations and daily observations, with the corresponding households of the
migrants interviewed. In addition to this, research in the community of Juan de Herrera
(Dominican Republic) has also being carried out, based on interviews with family
members who have a female migrant in the Netherlands and some migrants who have
since returned to their community of origin. Additionally, informal conversation with
locals and some members of the council of this community, as well as daily
observations and photographic records were taken into account. Furthermore, upon
returning from the Dominican Republic, post fieldwork research was carried out in
Amsterdam, in parallel to working on a project called MEP (Migrantes en Prostitución)
in Casa Migrante2, where further insights into female Dominican migration were
obtained.

Over the last years academia has experienced a growth in studies related to migration.
Nevertheless, there has been a considerable gap up until a few years ago in including
women as the main actor of this movement and the meaning of this for their households
in the place of origin. Thus, for the purpose of this research I have integrated a gender
perspective to understand that gender relations and inequalities create differences
between men and women in such a way that they are placed in different positions in
society. Thus, it is vital to take gender into account when looking at migration. The
movement of people travelling and setting up in new places implies consequences for
their families and households, such as the impact of remittances, the transfer of ideas
and other effects on this migration, depending on the gender of the migrant. Moreover,
for this study I use the concept of transnational migration as a key point for my
theoretical framework, parallel with social networks, together with economic
remittances and the implication of the feminisation of transnational migration. The
definition of social networks adopted for this work is in accordance with that as given
by Boyd (1989), in which social networks form social and economic structures for the

2
   Casa Migrante (Amsterdam) is a non profit organization that focuses on dealing with problems that
people of Hispanic origin might have as migrants in the Netherlands. The main focus of the MEP project
is to publish a monthly magazine in Spanish and Portuguese with relevant information for sex workers in
Amsterdam. This project also includes going through the Red Light District, Singel and Albert Cuypstraat
areas on a monthly basis in order to distribute the magazine in person to the sex workers working in the
windows, as well as to trying to establish a relationship of trust between the sex workers and the staff
from Casa Migrante.

                                                   8
individual, household and community, helping to transmit information about places of
destination, whilst also supporting the settlement of the migrant in the new place. This
then allows us to understand migration as a social process in which migrants are
potential agents of economic, social and political change. Therefore, the main objective
of my research has been to answer the question:

How do the transnational households of Dominican female migrants to the Netherlands
understand and experience the migration process, in particular in relation to social
networks and motherhood?

This case study may offer a modest input into the increasing literature of contemporary
migration flows from Latin America and the Caribbean to Europe. I have aimed to
generate an analysis and description of the impact of Dominican female transnational
migration. This includes the role of social networks, an understanding of how
transnational motherhood develops, of paying attention to female migration related to
the sex industry in the Netherlands, of taking into account changes in gender patterns, as
well as learning what tendencies and roles the remittances have from these female
migrants to their place of origin. Moreover, with the incorporation of gender
perspectives into the study of migration processes I wish to add more effectiveness and
sustainability to development programmes and policies, along with enriching migration
studies in general. Consequently, the reader may expect from this thesis an exposition of
how family members perceive the migration of their daughters, mothers, sisters and
wives. In order to develop this research, the following structure has been set. After the
introduction, a background and context of the research location is given. This is then
followed by the chapter on methodology, which leads on to the literature review where
a theoretical framework is set. The findings from the research are then given in the next
two chapters, where the first is based on the five cases studied and the second on the
female led migration from the village of Juan de Herrera. This then leads to a
conclusion, where the main findings are exposed in relation to the theoretical
framework. The thesis then ends with final recommendations and remarks for future
research. This research also includes a full reference list and additional appendices,
which include some information about the respondents of this research, a map of the
Dominican Republic marked with the places where the study was conducted, the
questionnaires of the interviews with migrants and families, plus a list with the original
quotations in Spanish that were then quoted in translation in the body of the thesis.




                                            9
II. Background and Context
The Dominican Republic is located on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, one of the
largest in the Antilles, between Cuba and Puerto Rico. The climate, similar to other
countries of the Caribbean, it is quite even and tropical, although hurricanes are
common in the rainy season. The economic history of the southern region, particularly
Santo Domingo, is strongly linked to the hurricanes. Earthquakes are another natural
phenomenon affecting the economics of the country. These can sometimes destroy
whole cities, as occurred in 1562 in Santiago and in 1666 in Santo Domingo (Moya
Pons 1998).

It is the only island in the Caribbean that is divided in two countries: Haiti & the
Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic was the first place in the Americas to be
colonised by the European settlers. The capital of this country is Santo Domingo3,
which was also the first colonial capital in the Americas. This was at the end of the 15th
century, when Columbus arrived in the “new world”, and Spain set up its first colony in
the Dominican Republic. Since that time the Dominican Republic went through a series
of struggles before finally gaining independence, being occupied by France, Haiti and
then again Spain. During the Spanish colonisation the indigenous inhabitants soon died
out, mainly due to being forced to work in the gold mines established there. By 1508
only 60.000, out of an estimated 400.000 indigenous inhabitants on the Island survived
(Moya Pons 1998). In 1519, after a series of epidemic illnesses the number of
indigenous survivors declined even further. In response to this situation the colonisers in
1520s imported African slaves in order to replace the indigenous work force. Thus, by
the time the Dominican Republic gained independence, the population was principally
based on the African descendants of the slaves, as well as some remaining Spanish
families remaining, which had considerable control over the land. Almost none of the
original indigenous population is left today.

Due to the history and geography of the country, the Dominican Republic has constantly
had migration activities. Though large scale emigration is considerably new, its origins
are profoundly rooted in the economy and the political instability of the country. The
United States has played a major role in Dominican politics since the late 19th century.
During the majority of the 20th century, as the Dominican state grew more in debt with
its United States creditors, the United States essentially took control of Dominican
affairs from afar. A great part of the country’s land and of its commercial agricultural
activities came under jurisdiction of the United States. Through its history and the
trends of land occupancy, of commercial agriculture and of the industrial development,
this control the United States has had over Dominican economy, politics and even
culture resulted in the spread of the seeds for migration, long before it actually began
(Levitt 2001:31). There is a slump in the migration process under the dictatorship of
Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961), which was a period when migration was strictly limited
and controlled. But in the following decades there has been a continuous growth in
migration. For instance, according to the National Human Development Report 2005,
the overall emigration rate in 1960 was 2.8 per thousand, compared to 105.7 per
thousand in 2002. This means that nowadays there are over 1 million Dominican
migrants, compared to 8.5 million Dominican living in the Dominican Republic.
Interestingly, although two thirds of these Dominican migrants are in the United States,


3
    Please refer to Appendix IV: Map of the Dominican Republic.

                                                   10
this number has been decreasing in the last decades, and the trend of Dominican female
migration to Europe has been on the increase.

The modern period of Dominican migration starts with the death of the dictator Rafael
Trujillo (1961). According to the NHDR 20054 this can then in turn be divided into two
different periods, defined by the volume of migrants and by the host country of the
migration. The first phase (1961-1979) was characterised by the number of Dominicans
abroad, considered to be approximately 300.000. The end of the dictatorship meant an
end of restrictions on travelling abroad, together with political instability and a civil war
in 1965. After Trujillo’s assassination the country had short periods of presidencies,
military coups and military intervention by the US. Apprehension that a country similar
to Cuba could emerge from the Dominican Republic led to the United States occupation
in 1965, which was directed to establish a policy of open migration from the Dominican
Republic. Thus, thousands of Dominicans were granted visas when they apply for them
due to the socio-economic and political insecurity. This was coupled with changes USA
migration policy in 1965, with the removal of race based quota and preferential system.
All these reasons encouraged Dominican migrants to choose the United States as the
leading destination. The troops withdrew in 1967, after Balaguer was elected to be
president. Balaguer started a presidency that was to last for 12 years and was
characterised by an authoritarian regime. However, Balaguer’s time was also marked by
an increase in the GDP, and it attracted investment and foreign aid. Alas, this
improvement in the economy was short lived, to be followed by high inflation and a
stagnation of wages. Balaguer’s policies favoured urban workers, which led to a decline
in agricultural production and as a consequence an increase in rural poverty. During the
1970s there was therefore internal migration flows from rural areas to cities. This influx
of urban migration soon swamped the demand for work in the cities, thus worsening
poverty in urban areas and producing another large wave of migration to the United
States. In 1978 Guzman was elected to the presidency, which heralded a new
democracy in the country. Nevertheless, the late 1970s and 1980s was a period of deep
economic crisis. At this time, more than half the Dominicans did not have access to
public services and unemployment rates grew by 25%. As a consequence of this
situation there was another wave of emigration to USA and also this time to Europe,
including the Netherlands (Moya Pons 1998, Petree & Vargas 2005).

In the second phase (1980- present) migration was made easier and consequently the
number of Dominicans migrating increased. New trends also started to appear as a
consequence of economic globalisation, which led to the collapse of agro-exports and
gave rise to new transnational economic activities and social relations. In the 1970s,
sugar production was the most important economic activity for the Dominican
economy, but the global crisis of the sugar industry during the 1980s ended up with the
collapse of the Dominican Republic’s sugar production, and thus its exportation as well.
The consequence was an important economic change from agriculture to services,
including non-traditional exports, creation of export production zones, migration,
remittances and tourism. The birth of the international tourist industry in the Dominican
Republic has played an important role in the push of migration, since from the 1980s
Europeans started visiting the Dominican Republic for their holidays. After almost three
decades, transnational tourism has connected the Dominican Republic with Europe, via
the establishment of many personal relationships and marriages between visiting
Europeans and resident Dominicans.

4
    NHDR 2005: National Human Development Report 2005 of the Dominican Republic.

                                                11
This situation has helped to create and maintain a transnational social network, which
has also further facilitated migration processes (Petree & Vargas, 2005). According to
UN-INSTRAW (2006) this reorganization process carried with it three consequences
that accelerated Dominican migration, First of all, as previously mentioned, the shift in
the Dominican economic model has led to important changes in the labour market,
meaning a growth in unemployment and an increase in the difficulties of mobility
between different sectors. All of this was also affected by structural adjustment
programmes, which encouraged a cycle of currency devaluations that still remains with
us nowadays, together with an inflationary process and a worsening of public services.
Inequalities have thus grown, reducing the quality of life for the majority of the
population. As a result, in the mid 1980s, there was an extended phase of social
movements and local demonstrations, which culminated in a total of eleven national
strikes from 1985 to 1991. In this situation of financial decline and political instability,
there was a huge flourish of migration from 1987 to 1994. This trend of migration was
also self reinforcing through social networks and family reunification processes. The
results of this wave of migration was seen in the second half of the 1990s, where a
substantial amount of money was sent back to the Dominican Republic, which led to a
more stable economic scenario. However this economic improvement was soon rocked
again by different factors that made the migration trends change. First of all, there were
modifications in the migration policies of host countries, where more restrictions to
enter were introduced, in particular in the United States. Migration controls in the USA
became ever more stringent following the attacks of September 11th. This led to an
economic crisis between 2002 and 2004, which marked the start of a new era of
Dominican migration. This has been characterised by undocumented and trafficked
migrants, with an increase in networks of women trafficking to Europe (UN-INSTRAW
2006).

For the last four decades, the United States has been the main country receiving
Dominicans, followed by Puerto Rico and Venezuela. In the 1990s there was an
increase in migration to Europe, particularly to Spain, because of similarities in culture
and language and because migrants could enter into the country without a Visa up until
1993. Italy is the second leading destination, and the Netherlands and Switzerland also
receive a very significant number of migrants. Moreover, the Dutch Antilles also
receive a significant number of migrants from the Dominican Republic, due to its strong
link with the Netherlands. Many Dominicans decide to migrate in the first place to the
Antilles, from where they hope it will be easier to get the papers needed to travel on to
the Netherlands. Therefore, islands such as San Martin are a bridge taken by the
migrants to reach the Netherlands. Once these migrants were settled in the Netherlands,
they could then help their sisters or other female relatives and female friends migrate
straight to Holland (sometimes as a family reunification) (UN-INSTRAW 2006). Thus
after the political, economical and social crises, not only in the Dominican Republic, but
in a general sense in Latin America and the Caribbean, together with the increase in
migration restrictions to the United States, Europe has become an attractive destination
for Dominicans. The result of this is that although Latin American and Caribbean
migrants are not the biggest group in the Netherlands (it was calculated to be
approximately 62,000 at the end of 2006) the number is estimated to increase to 200,000
by 2050. The three main Latin American and Caribbean nationalities in the Netherlands
are Brazilian (with 13,100) Colombian (with 10,335) and Dominican (with 10,155).
However, although the Dominican group is ranked third place in regard to its number, it
is vital to consider the size of, say Brazil, compared to the Dominican Republic. In fact
Dominican migrants in the Netherlands represent the highest percentage in regard to the

                                            12
population of the country of origin. Dominicans in the Netherlands represent 0,12% of
the total population of their country of origin, while for Brazilians and Colombians this
is respectively 0,006% and 0,02%. The majority of the Dominican migrants are based in
Amsterdam, however there also important migration centre points in Rotterdam and The
Hague. Another important characteristic of this migrant population is that the majority
are women (Barajas 2007). In 2002 the Dominican National census pointed out that
52.2% of the total number of Dominican migrants was women. This percentage seems
to change from period to period and according to the destination. The percentage of
women migrating began to grow in the 1980s, but increased sharply in the 1990s, being
particularly characterised by female migration to Europe (NHDR 2005). Coupled with
the increase of women in the migration trends to Europe, it is worth also noting that the
Netherlands are well known for its sex trade industry. Since the 1970s, there has been
an increase of Latin American and Caribbean women in the sex sector. Currently, out of
the 25,000 to 30,000 women working in the sex sector, it is believed that half of them
are immigrants and 5000 to 7000 are from Latin America or the Caribbean region
(Barajas 2007). An interesting observation here, is that the majority of Latin American
sex worker migrants are Dominicans, and a high number of them come from Juan de
Herrera.

Juan de Herrera is a village in the Dominican Republic located north of the town San
Juan de la Maguana5. According to the council, the main source of income is believed to
be from agriculture and from other businesses related to the processing and selling of
rice and corn. However Juan de Herrera has been economically characterised by high
rates of unemployment among adult women and men. This is believed to be due to the
introduction of machinery in agriculture, together with the farming crisis that struck the
nation in the 1980s and poor institutional support for agricultural activities. With this
economic situation migration has become one of the main livelihood strategies of the
area. This migration can either be internal, meaning flows to San Juan de la Maguana or
Santo Domingo for example, or it can take the form of transnational migration, which is
the most popular and common form of migration for this municipality6. This migration
flow is characterised by being mainly female led and mainly to the Netherlands, which
is why Juan de Herrera has gained the nickname of La Colonia Holandesa (The Dutch
Colony). Another particular of this female led migration is that it seems to be closely
related to sex work in the Netherlands.

In regard to the society of the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean family has been
affected by the ups and downs of the economy and the political situation. Race, class
and culture continue to generate conflict. The family has also suffered the influences of
demographic, economic, political and social changes (Barrow 1996). Yet one of the
most relevant characteristics of the Dominican Republic, together with other regions in
the Caribbean, is the nature of matrifocality in some households, in particular among the
lower social class and black households. This means that there is a high amount of
households that are headed by women. Nevertheless, this does not erase the patriarchal
nature of the majority of social, public and private structures and relations in the country
(Reynolds 2008, Fonseca 1991). The roots of matrifocality in the Caribbean can be
found in the age of colonialism. Slavery and the African heritage strengthened the
mother-child tie and the dominance of consanguine over conjugal bonds in the Afro-
Caribbean population. The dual marriage system decreased the weight of legal marriage

5
    Please refer to Appendix IV: Map of the Dominican Republic
6
    Please refer to Appendix III: Map of Juan de Herrera with household migration

                                                    13
in the lower classes, and was emphasized in the 19th century by Cuba’s ban on inter-
racial and inter-class unions. These aspects were of particular relevance for the black
population group living in poverty, with whom matrifocality came to be identified.
After the independence of the Hispanic Caribbean, both the white and black population
continued to suffer from poverty and high rates of unemployment, which had the effect
of marginalising men’s role as breadwinners (Reynolds 2008). This view of Reynolds is
also combined with the basic idea that the Dominican culture is sexist and the reins of
power are held by men, while women are not passive, but take on the responsibilities of
caregivers and breadwinners. Nowadays, Caribbean female led households are still
related to high levels of unmarried unions, which tend to be common among low
income groups. Later on in this thesis, under transnational household in the chapter on
theoretical framework, there is a further discussion on the nature of matrifocality.

The decline of the male role as breadwinner was further emphasis during the 1980s,
which was marked by an increase of women working in the industrial sector in the
Caribbean (Safa 2005:322-323). In the particular case of the Dominican Republic,
during the economic crises when programmes of structural adjustment were
implemented, the percentage of female headed household augmented from 21.7 per cent
in 1981 to 29.1 per cent in 1991. Salaries decreased and the cost of living increased
sharply (Safa, 1995:20-25). Moreover, according to Baez (2000, cited in Safa
2005:329), the economy changed from being based on sugar exports (which employs
mainly men) to tourism and export of processed goods, which offers more employment
opportunities for women. Despite the growth of the number of women in labour
participation, they still suffered from disadvantages. There is still a preference for men
in public sphere jobs, especially technical ones, which are also better remunerated. This
patriarchal ideology of the Dominican Republic in the public sphere is also seen in
political parties and labour unions, which seem to be reluctant to include women in their
leadership circles despite women being presence in the public work force.

According to the National Human Development Report 2005, there is a difference
between households with both parents present, and those of single mothers where the
household is female led. In the case of households consisting of the mother and
children, there is a greater tendency to fall below the poverty line, with over 50% of
such households being classed as living in poverty. In comparison, if the household unit
consists of a stable couple and their offspring, this percentage drops to 20%. It can
therefore be seen how matrifocality is the key in understanding female migration. In this
situation women are the ones who are burdened with the economic responsibilities of
their households, which means that they are pushed towards migration as it is
understood to be a viable livelihood strategy.




                                           14
III. Methodology

In the first month of my Msc in International Development Studies at the University of
Amsterdam, I covered topics on migration and gender, which, together with the fact of
me being Spanish and living abroad from more than 7 years caused my personal and
academic curiosity towards migrants and their families to grow. For that reason I began
to look into the idea of research on female migration. This idea was also formed with
constructive advice given to me by different academics in my surroundings. It was then
further reinforced by the fact that I speak Spanish as a native language, and by my
learning process in academia which encouraged me to include gender in my analytical
perspective as a researcher. Therefore I opted to focus on Latin American female
migration to the Netherlands as the subject for my thesis. It soon became clear that there
was a lack of empirical studies on the overall discourse of female migration, including
the households in the place of origin and the migrants in the host country. The reason
for looking in particular to the case of Dominican female migration to the Netherlands
was based on various elements. First there were the practicalities, since I was already
based in Amsterdam and I could study the Netherlands as a host country. Secondly, I
chose the Dominican case as it consists of the highest number of Latin American
migrants in the Netherlands in proportion to the population of the country of origin.
Furthermore the migrants are particularly concentrated in Amsterdam, as well as the
fact that the group is characterised by being women.

The increasing literature on transnational migration indicates that there is an emphasis
on empirical research via case studies, which focus in a qualitative manner on a sample
of those involved in transnational activities. Therefore, I have followed the same pattern
of operationalisation, this time paying more attention to the household of the migrants.
Marcus (1995) (see also Vertovec 1999) gives a constructive way of analysing
transnationalism, known as multi-sited ethnography. This entails investigating and
finding cultural formations in different places or activities. Although I believe this is the
proper or the best way of studying an issue within the boundaries of transnationalism,
for my particular case study and because of time and economic constraints, I have
minimised this methodology in scale. Therefore, this methodology provided by Marcus
of multi-sited ethnography has been taken into account, but reduced to an investigation
of two months in the host country, in order to search for and interview the female
migrants, and three months focusing on the households of these migrants in the
corresponding sending communities. In addition to research carried out in Juan de
Herrera in the province of San Juan de la Maguana. Once back in Amsterdam from the
Dominican Republic, some post fieldwork research has also been included.

Furthermore, with the purpose of gaining a clearer understanding of the results exposed
in this thesis, I would like to note that constructivism is the philosophical basis of my
research. This viewpoint says that there is no objective truth, the world is socially
constructive and that meaning is developed through social interaction (Crotty 1998: 8-
9). Therefore, my theoretical perspective is critical theory/inquiry in order to pinpoint
the power relations within society to give evidence of the forces of hegemony and
injustice (Crotty 1998: 157). Since I am concerned with power relations and their
imposition of meaning, my position is within a feminist perspective. This feminist
perspective includes looking at discourse on care, breaking dichotomies of gender, and
paying also attention to female public remunerated work and private non remunerated
work. Taking a feminist approach allows me to give centre stage to the people’s voices
in recording their experiences, so that the construction of knowledge and theory is based

                                             15
on the critical study of people’s lives (Reynolds 2008). Since I am also taking into
account communication, interrelationships and how people give their own
interpretations to actions and objects, consequently meaning arises from social
interaction. Symbolic Interactionism is also my theoretical perspective (Crotty 1998:7-
8). Furthermore, my methodology is qualitative, because I believe it to be primarily the
most appropriate for exploratory questions, thereby gaining an intensive focus on
meaning. It also gives the research flexibility, which can generate knowledge and gives
me the opportunity to pay attention to details (Bryman 2004:288-289). Therefore, the
main methods used are of ethnographic techniques, meaning in-depth interviews of a
semi-structured nature7, informal conversations, listening to life-stories, along with
some photography to record certain particularities. During the fieldwork, in the
interviews I always explained the nature of the research, the possibility of stopping the
interview should the interviewee wish to do so at any point and the anonymity of the
interviewee’s answers. I also asked for permission to record, since I explained that I
wanted to focus on listening to the interviewee and not on noting down their answers,
and this was not seen to be a problem in any of the case studies. In fact, this allowed the
interview situation to be similar to a conversation, rather than a rigid question-answer
session.

In relation to the data analysis, I have aimed to learn as much as possible about the
people I was in daily interaction with and whom I was interviewing (migrants,
returnees, families, neighbours and friends of the migrants) and this was in order to
detect commonalities and variations amongst them. In order to generate findings that
transform raw data into new knowledge, I have engaged in active and demanding
analytic processes throughout all phases of the research. Understanding these processes
is an important aspect not only of doing qualitative research, but also of reading,
understanding, and interpreting it. A key part of the analysis was the transcription of the
interviews, and reading them several times, together with my fieldwork diary. This
helped me to become familiar to the responses and outcomes of the interviewees, which
then made it easier to organise the ideas and findings, consequently being able to then
present them in a fluid manner. By taking on qualitative analytic strategies I have relied
on an approach of comparative analysis. Taking a Symbolic Interactionism strategy
involves taking one piece of data (one interview, one statement, one theme) and
comparing it with all others that may be similar or different in order to develop
conceptualisations of the possible relations between various data, and also combining it
with a comparison with the literature. For example, by looking and comparing the
accounts of the five families interviewed, together with the families with female
migrants in the case of Juan de Herrera, it has been possible to generate commonalities
and dissimilarities in order to gain findings. Taking into account the point of view of the
migrants and their families offers interesting results, where dynamics of the households
can be brought to light. Using ethnographic research methods has also allowed me to
interpret the processes and products of cultural behaviour. I have documented aspects of
human experience such as beliefs, relationship patterns and ways of living. In order to
test the findings which emerged from the data, I have showed the results to colleagues
and scholars to get an outside opinion in order to work out more formally the quality of
my qualitative study. I am also planning to test it by showing it to some of the
respondents to let them see what I have understood from what they said. Personally I
believe that if my interviewees accept my outcomes, it would mean that the research can
be considered successful.

7
    Please refer to Appendix V: Interview questions.

                                                       16
        Proposal Changes Aiming for a Better Result

During the months of April, May and June 2008 I worked on the proposal of this thesis,
which was titled Female Transnational Migration: Dominican Republic- Amsterdam. I
planned a thesis research that focussed on the impact or changes caused by female
transnational migration on their families in the place of origin. I suggested a case study
that looked at the families of women migrants from the Dominican Republic. After a
review of literature on the topic of transnational female migration, I held the belief that
the effect of female transnational migration can be both visible and invisible, and it
includes changes in household structures and even in the structure of the community of
origin. With female transnational migration, traditional roles are inversed, with the
female replacing the male as the main breadwinner of the household. Therefore, I opted
to adopt both a financial and social definition of remittances, which enabled me to
understand migration as a social process in which migrants are potential agents of
economic, social and political change. I aimed to generate an analysis and description of
the main effects of female transnational migration to the Netherlands on their household
of origin. I had planned to gather the information necessary to answer my research
question through in depth interviews and focus groups with the female Dominican
migrants in Amsterdam, coupled with their corresponding families in the Dominican
Republic. In addition I had intended mainly to be based in Santo Domingo, working in
partnership with Flacso-RD8.

However, all planned methodologies confront challenges that appear when applying
them in the field work research stage. This is where difficulties and impediments start
to materialise, but also when the realities of the subjects studied begin to affect the
original plan proposed. This is due to the fact that as the research develops, key
questions become clear, while other issues become either irrelevant, or of less interest
and weight. Due to the fact that this was the first time that this methodology was
applied to this particular group of respondents, it is normal that unanticipated and
unforeseen impediments would occur; yet overcoming these impediments helps to
improve the methodology for future research. For this reason, since the writing of the
proposal for this research, there have been some changes to the focal points. These
changes have been made in order to gain the maximum benefit of the overall research,
thus aiming for a better final thesis. For example, at the beginning of the research I held
the belief that I was going to find clear patterns in changes of gender roles due to
female migration, which I suspected would tend towards female emancipation.
However, during the fieldwork it became obvious that changes and non changes in
gender pattern are strongly linked to the fact that I was researching households of a
matrifocal nature, meaning that the decision of migration of these women was related to
the fact that they have to cover the roles of both breadwinner and caregivers. Given this,
it is understandable to see that improvements in gender patterns might not happen, but
on the contrary migration is exacerbating them.

Moreover, eventually I have not given as much weight to social remittances as I
originally had planned in the proposal. This is because during the fieldwork it became
clear that in order to get a good analysis of social remittances, including as in the
studies of Levitt (2005): normative structures, systems of practices, and social capital; I
would have needed a longer investigation period in order not to confuse them with the

8
  Flacso-RD is part of the networks of public Universities of Latin America of Social Science. For more
information: http://www.flacso.org.do/

                                                   17
overall effects of migration, or the consequences of economic remittances. Furthermore,
I have paid more attention than originally planned in the proposal to the topic of
transnational motherhood. This has been because transnational motherhood became an
important topic in my findings and analysis.

During the months of June and July 2008 I worked on meeting female Dominican
migrants in Amsterdam, with the aim of then meeting their corresponding families in
the Dominican Republic. In the first instance, I found my sample to be reduced, since
not all Dominican women that I met were willing to participate (due to fears relating to
not having papers of residence, aggressive family links in their home country, etc).
Therefore I only obtained a total of five cases to study, when I had originally proposed
between 10 and 15. Furthermore, once in the Dominican Republic a new area of
respondents came to light, which appeared to be of high relevance for the research. This
area consisted of households, with a female migrant in the Netherlands, from the village
of Juan de Herrera in the province of San Juan de la Maguana. However, the original
main focus of analysis of my research has remained the same, being the households of
female Dominican migrants and the migrants themselves. Since these were families of a
matrifocal nature, the majority of the interviews were with women. In the case of Juan
de Herrera, the female migrants in the Netherlands were not interviewed because of
constraints of time and practicalities, ie the relatives of these migrants seemed to be
reluctant to give many details of the female migrants in the Netherlands. It is explained
later that the reason for this is because the female migrants most likely work in the sex
sector and the family members wanted to protect their identities for fear or shame.

In addition there have been other main changes in regard to the research question.
Previously the study set out to focus on changes related to gender roles and the transfer
of ideas that promote equalitarian relations between women and men. However I found
it very difficult to research this topic in depth, and I discovered that the fieldwork would
need to be carried out for a far longer period to achieve this. This is because it was
necessary to establish firm relationships with the group of respondents, thereby
reaching a level of trust that enabled the interviewee to feel that they could speak freely
(i.e. not with a stranger, a foreigner, a “white” person, etc). This was in addition to the
need to spend a considerable amount of time in each household to properly learn the
dynamics present there. Although I found some trends that indicated that the migration
of female relatives to the Netherlands have brought some gender changes in the
household in the place of origin, I could not find any convincing clues if this has in turn
had any effect related to, for example, domestic violence. I did not take fully into
consideration the matrifocal nature of the households which took part of in the research.
Therefore it was more difficult to predict the outcomes of my investigation. This raised
a fundamental point of adaptation to the research, in accordance with the context of my
findings. Even though before heading out to the Dominican Republic, I read up on the
main characteristics of Dominican society and gained an insight into the matrifocal
household system that is dominant among lower classes, it was not up until I actually
was in the Dominican Republic that I could understand more clearly what a matrifocal
system really means. Therefore I had to change some notions that I had previously held,
such as hoping to find in an easy way results that could indicate clearly changes in
gender patterns. This had the knock-on effect of having to adjust the research question
and sub-questions of my research accordingly. For this reason my research question
developed into:




                                            18
How do the transnational households of Dominican female migration to the
Netherlands understand and experience the migration process, in particular in relation
to social networks and motherhood?

And the sub-questions became:

    - What constitutes transnational motherhood and does it evolve?
    - What happens when these female migrants take on sex work as a livelihood
      strategy?
    - Are changes in gender patterns happening due to female transnational migration?
      (Is this female transnational migration changing any gender roles/pattern or
      relationships between women and men in the place of origin?)
    - What are the trends and tendencies of remittances?

In addition to these changes, there have also been some modifications in my proposition
of methods to gather information. In the first place I proposed to carry out both
interviews and have focus groups. However it proved unfeasible to have focus groups,
given that the participants were generally reluctant to talk about female migrants within
a group setting (with members made up of neighbours and people from other families).
Additionally, in the five cases studies the families were either very far apart from each
other within the parameters of Santo Domingo, or, in two of the cases, they were in
different cities. On the other hand, I found there were many occasions where a
conversation in an informal setting with a mixed group of people would turn towards
the topic of female migration in the Dominican Republic. In these cases there was no
formal interview or formal focus group, nor a recording was made, but the principle
points were remembered and afterwards noted down to be later taken into account for
the research. For this reason a field work diary was extremely useful, keeping regular
updates of the development of ideas and findings. Additionally, I ended up carrying out
more interviews than I expected. These consisted of interviews with travel and
migration agencies, which have also helped to gain an overall understanding, along with
the extra research focus on Juan de Herrera.

       Time Line

In order to get a better understanding of the results of this thesis it would be interesting
to look briefly at the overall time line of this research. In April, May and part of June
2008 I carried out the literature review and the formulation of the research question and
sub-questions, before writing the final proposal. During the months of June and July
2008 I volunteered work for the organisation called Casa Migrante, based in
Amsterdam. This organisation deals mainly with Hispanic speaking migrants, and
covers tasks such as offering social support, legal advice, psychological therapies,
English and Dutch courses, together with the fact that it is a well known open house to
socialise, specially aimed at Hispanic speakers. The primary reason of volunteering in
this organisation was to gain access to Dominican women in the Netherlands. The result
of this was that Olinda, another volunteer in the organisation and a Dominican woman
who has been living in the Netherlands for more than 20 years, helped me to begin to
understand some of the ways in which the Dominican society works. Furthermore, she
offered me contacts of with family in Santo Domingo and with of her two sisters in the
Netherlands in order to interview them. One of Olinda’s sisters did not want to be
interviewed, and with the other sister it was only possible to have a brief
interview/informal conversation. However her family in the Dominican Republic was

                                            19
an important part of my research. Another result was, that through Casa Migrante I also
met two Dominican women who became part of the research, who then offered me the
corresponding contacts with their family in the Dominican Republic. One of these
women introduced me to her aunt, cousin and neighbour in the Netherlands, all of
whom were of Dominican origin, and who I also interviewed before going to their
country. However their families in the Dominican Republic were not part of the
research, since their household ties were very weak with the remaining family members
in the Dominican Republic.

Once in the Dominican Republic, residing there from mid August to mid November, I
carried out the majority of the research. One of the members of the families interviewed
provided me with the fifth case studied. This fifth case is of the female migrant in
Spain. Firstly I carried out the interviews with her household in the Dominican
Republic, and once I was back in the Netherlands I had a brief telephone interview with
the migrant woman herself9. After the second month in the Dominican Republic I met
someone who worked in connection with the Dutch Embassy in Santo Domingo10 and
who facilitated an extension to my respondents by introducing me to the village called
Juan de Herrera, nicknamed “The Dutch Colony”. The reason for including this as part
of my research was because Juan de Herrera has a very high female led migration to the
Netherlands. Therefore my fieldwork research changed track. Once the five households
related to the five female migrants were interviewed, I used my time left in the
Dominican Republic to reside in Juan de Herrera, carrying out interviews with families
that had female relatives in the Netherlands. It was at this point that I realised that I
should include sex work as a livelihood strategy in the study. Back from the fieldwork,
I have continued to work as a volunteer in Casa Migrante in Amsterdam in the MEP
project “Migrantes en Prostitución”, which involves distributing a monthly magazine to
Hispanic sex workers in the Red Light District. Thanks to this project I have had the
opportunity to observe that the majority of Hispanic sex workers are from the
Dominican Republic, and interestingly many of these workers are from Juan de Herrera.
Here I have had the opportunity to meet in particular meet Pamela and July, two women
from Juan de Herrera, who work as a sex workers in the red light district of the Wallen
in order to send money back home for their children and families in Juan de Herrera.
Since my return to Amsterdam from the Dominican Republic there have been many
interesting findings in regard to the connections between female led migration from
Juan de Herrera and to sex work in the Netherlands. However, given the constraints
regarding time and the size of this study, I have had to limit the amount of information
analysed in this thesis. For this reason I strongly recommend further research into the
subject.

        Some Other Practicalities and Difficulties

The main dilemma I went through in my fieldwork research, and which also affected
some stages of the data analysis, was in regard to migration related to sex work. During
the field work, among the families of female migrants in Juan de Herrera and in one of
the five cases studied earlier in Santo Domingo, when I brought up the topic of the job
of the female migrant relative in the Netherlands, a silence would fall, linguistic signs of

9
  Please refer to Appendix I to see the table of female migrants and their families in the Dominican
   Republic.
10
   Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery III) The Dutch embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican
Republic.

                                                  20
doubts as to what to say would appear, or the reply would sound (from my perspective
as a researcher) to be a lie. Thus, some of the questions were left unanswered. I
therefore pondered as to how I would manage to learn about these households and the
migrants. I got over this however through a reflexive analysis and by putting together
pieces of the puzzle that were being laid out, half-hidden, before me. Silence, doubting
answers and what I thought to be lies, together with gestures and different tones when
speaking, in addition to informal comments from people of the village, eventually all
came together to give meaning and significance. According to Nencel (2005) this is “the
act of feeling and its influences in fieldwork” (2005: 346), which she recommends to
treat as a part of methodology and which has three dimensions. First there are emotions
and fieldwork research that can be felt as agreeable or disagreeable. Second, when
doing research there is the feeling of suspicion, which normally leads the researcher to
investigate more up until things make sense. And third is simply the fact of becoming
aware of something. However, in order to truly acknowledge the suspicions I started to
get that some of the female migrants are working as sex worker in the Netherlands, it
was crucial to see them actually working in the sex trade. This was made possible
through my volunteering work in the MEP project (Casa Migrante), where I saw first
hand that a high percentage of sex workers in Amsterdam are Dominican and many of
them from Juan de Herrera. Meeting July and Pamela was particularly important as well
in this respect. Moreover, the silence, doubting answers and lies also indicated that
households with sex worker migrants abroad wanted to cover up for them and/or were
ashamed of the job they are doing. Another difficulty I have found in relation to the
topic of sex work as a livelihood strategy is, there is a shortage of review and research
on this subject in the literature. In contrast there is a rich volume on prostitution
connected to trafficking and on AIDS.

In regard to some other practicalities during my fieldwork, it is also worth mentioning
that there were some changes in my time planning. While I had initially planned to
finish the work in two moths, I found that everything took longer. In addition, the
research in Juan de Herrera had to be incorporated into the time scheme. Moreover,
there are some other issues that were not taken into account for the time planning.
Living in the Netherlands I was not used to the extreme heat and humidity of the
Dominican Republic. As a result of this fatigue occurs, slowing down the work
originally planned. Moreover contracting dengue fever kept me in bed two weeks. In
addition to this, it is essential to check the season for when the research has been
planned. In the Dominican Republic, during the months of September, October and
November, it is the hurricane season, which means that during my fieldwork research
there were days and sometimes weeks where it was extremely difficult to commute due
to the heavy rain and occasional flooding, which was further aggravated by the poor
conditions of public transport11. During those periods it was almost impossible to do the
research fieldwork. So I have learned the importance for this type of research to allow
oneself extra time for unforeseen circumstances.

It is also worth noting the practicalities relating to the language. In the Dominican
Republic the language spoken is Spanish, and since I am a native Spanish speaker I did
not have any communication problems. I could therefore always be on the alert for
gathering data without having to rely on a translator. However, this also meant that all
my interviews were recorded in Spanish, and thus the transcriptions were also in
Spanish. This then led to a more laborious analysis of data, due to the need for a two

11
     Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery, VI) Public transport.

                                                      21
stage process of analysis and translation. I processed the data in Spanish, but then had to
analyse it in English, particularly with respect to a comparison with the literature
review. This turned out to be a surprisingly arduous process. In the body of the text of
the chapters of analysis, the quotations are translated into English, with the original
Spanish version included as a reference in Appendix VII. However, although I have
tried to give a translation as close as possible to the original comments, I have found it
sometimes difficult to convey all of the subtleties and meanings given by the
interviewees. It is important to note however that these subtleties and meanings have
been included in the analyses of the data gathered, and that this was possible due to the
fact that I am a native Spanish speaker.

A final remark on practicalities that I would like to make is the presence of my husband,
Michael (who speaks fluent Spanish) during my fieldwork research. A couple of months
before travelling to the Dominican Republic, my husband found an opportunity to work
on the island. Once in the Dominican Republic we worked independently, but there
were times when my husband accompanied me when carrying out the interviews. This
was related to the fact that I was visiting households with more that one family member
(including both women and men), and it therefore seemed to be a good idea to go
together. This meant that in practice I could take advantage of the presence of my
husband, meaning that while I was carrying out my interviews with the members who
were closest to the migrants, and who were in the majority of cases women, my husband
would wait in the terrace or patio with the men of the household, chatting informally12.
This implied that the women could relax more with me and could talk about men issues
more freely, given that the male members were sitting apart from us, being entertained
by talking to my husband, Michael. Another positive point of having Michael around
during my fieldwork was that I was able to brainstorm and discuss ideas, which at that
point were shaping into findings, and since we were both living in the Dominican
Republic I could explain my perceptions and ideas developing through my research. It is
difficult to consider what would be the negative points of having my husband present
during the fieldwork research, since I cannot compare this experience with other
fieldwork investigations of my own. However with relation to the work of Nencel
(2005), it could be argued that due to the fact of being white and married I might have
given my respondents the impression of having a successful life, thus creating further
barriers between me as a researcher and them as respondents.

          Some Ethical Concerns

There are several ethical issues that I have considered when designing this research and
while carrying it out. The main consideration has been the safety of my participants.
This has been accomplished by constantly bearing in mind the risks and also the
benefits of the research. For instance, there was a particular case where the children and
family of a migrant told me how their female migrant relative works in the Netherlands
as waitress in a restaurant. However this turned out not to be the case, since I met her
working as a sex worker in the red light district of Amsterdam. As a researcher I
respected her decision not to explain her job to her family in the Dominican Republic.
For this reason, I tried to avoid the topic of the working situation of the female migrant,
both with the family and with the migrant herself. Another ethical consideration of
similar nature is that the council of Juan de Herrera has politely requested me for the

12
 Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery, II) My husband entertaining a male household member,
while I was carrying out an interview with a female member of the household.

                                                 22
results of my investigation in their village. Due to the nature of the results, I have
changed the names of all the participants to make sure that they retain their anonymity
and that there is no personal link made with the data gathered through the interviews
and conversations with them. Not only the names of the participants from Juan de
Herrera have been changed, but also from the five cases studied, to save guard the
privacy of the respondents.

I obtained consent from each participant to carry out the interview, introducing myself
and my background, describing the nature of the research, the reasons for doing it, the
type of questions the interview was made up of, the reasons for recording the interview
and made clear that the interviewee was welcome to stop the interview should she or he
at any point feel uncomfortable. At the end of each interview the participants were
given a small thank you gift. However they were not told about this up until the end, so
the interviewee was not affected by the fact that they were going to receive a small
material token of thanks.




                                          23
IV. Theoretical Framework
Migration is one of the major issues of the twenty-first century. It is now a vital,
unavoidable and potentially beneficial part of the economic and social life of every
country and region. However, the migratory experience is burdened with contradictions,
challenges and uncertainty. Migration offers to those who embark on the travel abroad
the possibility to improve their living conditions and those of their families back home,
as a consequence of the remittances of money which they send to them from abroad,
and to gain knowledge from an exchange with other cultures and realities. Migration
also encompasses human cost for the migrant and their families, such as the physical
separation from each other, racism, poor living conditions, discrimination, exploitation
among others, together with a feeling of melancholy and nostalgia for their country of
origin. However, migrating temporarily or permanently does not automatically imply
that migrants are disconnected from their family and friends in their place of origin. To
the contrary, Goytisolo (2004) states that the majority of the migrants put their lives in
danger in order to be able to accomplish their family obligations, mainly providing and
supporting their dependants in their place of origin (Goytisolo 2004) (see also Sorensen
2005c). However, my point of departure stems from the fact that the majority of gender
constructions entail that the position of women is distinct to that of men in society.
Therefore it is crucial to take a gender perspective into account when looking at
migration processes, since this gender construction will make the migration experience
different for women and men, as well as for the sending households in the country of
origin.

Due to an unequal globalisation and to increasing economic inequalities there has been
a change in patterns of migration flow. This is the case for the Dominican Republic,
where migration flows have changed from the United States to Europe, from male to
independent women migrant. This feminisation of migration has led to a restructuration
of the household to a transnational household, creating roles such as transnational
motherhood and where a female migrant’s relatives take on an important task in
supporting the female migrant. Regardless of the difficulties migrants go through,
migration, and more particularly transnational migration grows every year. According to
the IOM there are more than 200 million estimated international migrants in the world
today, and these migrants comprise 3.0 per cent of the global population and women
account for half of the number of the global migrants. But there is also an approximate
number 20 to 30 million unauthorised global migrants who are not counted in the
official numbers. One of the most palpable and researched features of migration is the
flow of money from migrants to the place of origin. In 2007, remittance flows were at
USD 337 billion worldwide, USD 251 billion of which went to developing countries.
Latin America and the Caribbean receive one of the largest total sums of remittances of
any region of the world, amounting to 60.7 billion (IOM 2009). This is not the only
effect of migration, there is also an important generating of social change, where
restructuration of gender roles and family tasks take place.

In this chapter, first of all I tackle migration as a livelihood strategy, including a gender
perspective, feminisation of migration and migration related to sex work. Secondly, I
approach migration from a transnational perspective, including with social networks,
notions of transnational households, the creation of transnational motherhood, chains of
care and remittances. Finally, I give account of the social impact of transnational
migration on gender norms, and relations between women and men, from other
empirical studies. Thus, with this theoretical framework I attempt to begin to answer my

                                             24
research question: How do the transnational households of Dominican female migration
to the Netherlands understand and experience the migration process, in particular in
relation to social networks and motherhood?

       I. Migration as a livelihood strategy

The majority of all transnational migrants come from poor countries and emigrate to
wealthier ones. Thus, migration has to be enclosed within a context of global tendencies
and the growth of disparities and dependency between the South and the North. For this
reason, it is important to frame migration within the consequences of neo-liberal
economies and structural adjustment programmes applied in developing countries,
which cause an increase in unemployment, and therefore an increase in the informal
sector, as well as causing modernisation, the need of greater consumption, coupled with
the idea of being globally integrated. A consequence of this is that many households and
individuals carry out migration as a livelihood strategy. Therefore, I define livelihood
strategy, based on the work of Ypeij (2009), as the group of activities that a member or
members of a household assume in a conscious way in order to ensure the maintenance
of this family unit, whether this is a sporadic action aiming for a particular crisis, or
trying to solve a long term problem. Yet, migration cannot merely be understood as a
simple livelihood strategy on its own, but also has to be seen as a way of maintaining a
social class, a strategy to reduce risk of downward class mobility, or of a way to
upgrade to another social class. In the parameters of this notion, there is no space to
include the members of the household as passive actors; on the contrary it shows them
as the agents, whose actions are a response to structural forces. Thus, in the case studies
of this thesis, the single Dominican mothers, coming from a matrifocal family, embark
on the decision of migrating, thanks to the support given by their female social
networks, in order to make ends meet and support their children.

In some areas of the world and under particular circumstances, poverty can be the main
cause of migration, while in other areas the poor will be the last to move. In some
situations migration can be a way of alleviating poverty, while in others it may
contribute to deepening the poverty situation. Migration is frequently understood purely
as a flight from poverty, meaning that there are not many prospects available locally,
and so people migrate in order to survive. Yet, it is important not to frame migration as
an expected or homogenous type of action, since it responds to an extensive variety of
factors which affect people differently and to which they respond in different ways. For
this reason, since people may react in different ways under apparently similar
circumstances, each migration can count as unique (Kothari 2002). According to
Skeldon (2003), the general results of most studies of migration of non-disaster
situations are that it is not the poorest who migrate, but those with access to some
resources, no matter how small these might appear. Migration always involves costs of
transportation, documents, living arrangements in the new place of destiny…etc, and so
the very poorest cannot afford the risk and financial costs of migrating. For this reason,
the survival driven migration of the poorest is possible to be primarily local, regional at
most. Moreover, migration creates the conditions that lead to people feeling themselves
to be poor, which in turn leads to further migration as a move in order to satisfy new-
found aspirations and expectations. This process is, according to Skeldon (2003), the
root of most migrations, which although it gives the impression that poverty is the main
force, in reality this is the result of a desire to better oneself against new standards,
rather than the product of absolute deprivation.


                                            25
While people adopt migration as a livelihood strategy for a variety of material and non
material reasons, in the decision to migrate there are always push and pull factors to
take into consideration. Motivation is a key element in migration and whether it is
voluntary, involuntary or impelled, independent or dependent, the decision can be
shaped by push factors or by pull ones. While much of the literature of migration
focuses on migration as “development induced” and represents unequal development,
for Kothari (2002) it is clear that there are diverse stages of motivation which form the
decision to migrate, which are internal or external to the household. For this reason, it is
interesting to give a brief overview of causes for migration. There is a rich volume of
literature regarding migration studies, with different theories and perspectives when
looking at the reasons behind migration. According to Massey (2001) and Lawson
(1998) the oldest theoretical model, neoclassical economy, presents two approaches to
migration modelling: macro and micro models. In a macro-economic model the reason
for migration is geographic disparities in the supply and demand of labour. This macro-
economic view is coupled with individual choice, thus individuals wishing to migrate
most often do so because of monetary reasons. Micro-economic models pay attention to
the way migrants behave, rather than to the determinants of the overall flow (Massey
2001:9829). My research is in accordance with scholars such as Lawson (1998), who
have criticised these approaches because it ignores gender inequalities by presuming
that economic motivations have the same importance for both genders (Lawson
1998:41).

The political-economic approach emphasises the organisation of the macro-scale
political and economic system of relations. From this perspective migration decisions,
and also the consequences of migration, entail different class biases. This means that
individuals from a dominant class have more power over the resources of the economy
and therefore might take strategic decisions to migrate, while individuals in a more
subordinated class are expected to migrate as a strategy of survival, as has been noted in
my fieldwork research. Nevertheless, this political-economic approach lacks attention to
household dynamics and gender relations, which are crucial when looking at migration
discourses (Lawson 1998: 41). The household strategies approach, according to
Lawson (1998), extends these views by focussing on the vitality of reproductive work in
characterising the mobility of different households and individuals. Moreover, a new
economics of migration approach has emerged to confront some assumptions from the
neoclassical economy’s viewpoints. This means that migration choices are not only
decided by the individuals who migrate, but also by the family, household and
sometimes even the whole community. Different to this theory is the segmented labour
market theory, which claims that migration has its fundamental origins in modern
industrial society, where migration arises because of the necessity of flexible and cheap
labour in receiving countries. The world system theory points out that migration derives
from the access of capitalist economic relations into non-capitalist regions, producing a
mobile population. This means that migration occurs when leaders of capitalist firms
penetrate into poor areas, leading to a dislocation of people living in those areas, who
are then forced to migrate.

Finally, in social capital theory; Massey et al (1987) were precursors of the view that
migrant networks were a form of social capital13 and that migration itself is a vehicle for

13
  “social capital is the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by
virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalised relationship of mutual
acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu & Wacquant 1992, cited on Massey 2001:9832)

                                                      26
the transformation of social relations. This has been an important focus for my research,
in which social networks transpire to play an important role. According to Boyd and
Grieco (2003), gender is deeply rooted in deciding who migrates, the form and type of
migration and the consequences for the futures of the migrants and their families.
Nevertheless, this can present challenges since the traditional theories of migration
focus on the causes of migration, rather than paying attention to those who migrate. Nor
do they help to explain the reasons that encourage women to become transnational
migrants. Thus, in order to incorporate gender into transnational migration theory, it is
important to take into account all the determining factor for the different experiences in
migration. Understanding these factors, as well as the consequences, will improve
theories in transnational migration. After mentioning these different migration
approaches, I can argue that in overall there is a lack of attention to gender, household
dynamics and gender relations in neoclassical economy and political economy stances.
Therefore, in my approach to the subject of my research on female transnational
migration from the Dominican Republic to the Netherlands, I understand that migration
flows cannot be described by a particular theory. Instead they can be seen as a
livelihood strategy, taking into account factors such as gender, class, ethnicity, the
context of the country of origin, background of the household...etc. This migration is not
an individualist decision, but a strategy of survival determined by a matrifocal
household, where gender is a pivotal indicator and where economic improvement for
the household is the main aim. In addition the migration of these women is a
consequence of a capitalist global economy.

          - Including a gender perspective

Gender is one of the most important things shaping shape human life, and analysing the
meaning of gender is imperative in order to gain a better understanding of the focus of
this research. Gender is an axis of power relations, thus gender in all societies makes a
difference in activities, space, the way we dress, jobs …and so on. Nevertheless, gender
should be studied as a structure that institutionalises social relationships, creates
categories of gender and implies power at levels over that of the individual (Pessar &
Mahier 2001:2).

     “Major areas of life – including sexuality, family, education, economy, and the
     state – are organised according to gender principles and shot through with
     conflicting interest and hierarchies of power and privilege” (Glenn, 1999, cited in
     Pessar & Mahier, 2001:2).

In this sense Bourdieu14 (1991) remarks that gender is deeply rooted in the social order,
thus comes without justification, and is therefore imposed as natural. He also argues that
this order is intensively inscribed in the structures of social organisation and in the
individuals’ minds (Bourdieu 1991). Therefore, conceptualising gender as a social
construction on three levels, symbolic, subjective and structural, rather than on a natural
one, helps to deconstruct this belief or “myth”. The idea that gender creates inequalities
has been studied for long time by different disciplines, from anthropology to sociology,
politics, economy…etc. Recently, Connell (2005) notes that for many years diverse
approaches that have tackled gender issues have essentially focussed on issues related to

14
   “…the social order is so profoundly and deeply entrenched that it needs no further justification; it
enforces itself as being auto evident and is accepted as “natural”. This order is inscribed into the
structures of social organization and in cognitive structures of the mind.” (Bourdieu, 1991)

                                                     27
women. The main reasons of this are evident, since women are the most deprived
according to the major model of gender inequity. For the last fifteen years there has
been a greater focus on issues related to men within gender. For example Gutmann
(2002) explores the changing conception of masculinity in Mexico, and Fuller (2001)
looks at the position of Peruvian men. This focus of study is important, since men are
believed to be in the dominant position, and thus the gatekeepers for gender equality.
Moreover, the meaning of this internationalisation of gender debates indicates that
gender relations themselves have a global element. According to Connell (2005), the
substructures of gender relations can be seen to have an international dimension, which
is increasing in the current process of globalisation (Connell, 2005:1804).

Gender dynamics are very important to establish and categorize the experience of
transnational migration, since they also play a crucial role in shaping and reforming
identities and imagining new ways of being. Transnational migratory experience must
be understood as a new challenging environment, where new relations of exploitation
and power may materialise from old hegemonic strategies (Burton 2004:774-775). It is
also important to pay attention to some criticisms related to gender and transnational
migration, since some feminist scholar studies examine the needs of women from
developing countries in a general manner, producing a monolithic image. One of the
main problems of this generalisation is that it might lead to represent women from less
developed areas as politically immature and are in need of Western feminist ideals.
Therefore according to Mohanty (1991), it is vital to recognise the differences, not only
between the struggles of women from the North and South, but also to pay particular
attention to the differences between country, class and ethnicity (Mohanty 1991). It is
therefore important to take a correct approach when doing a research on this subject and
try to follow what Heng (1997) describes:

  “A feminist theory that would be global in its compass, as in its intentions must
  expect to be surprised by the strategies, appearances, and forms of feminism that
  emerge and are effective in a Third World context. As Third-world feminist
  themselves realize only too well, the difficulty of discussing Third-world feminism
  arises in the first instance as a difficulty of identifying the concretions and forms of
  effectivity in the Third World that can be grasped as feminist” (Heng 1997: 30)

Thus, it is important to remark on the weight of understanding gender within the
confines of migration because, in both sending communities and receiving countries,
gender plays an important role at the levels of society, family and the individual, and
influences the composition of migration and the experiences that women have to face.
In addition to this, it is also crucial to take into account the context of the migration, i.e.
paying attention to the household structure of the sending community. My research,
with the Dominican Republic as the sending society, is highly characterised among low
classes by a matrifocal household, where there is a high female led migration. The
gender rule that makes women responsible for the care of their children is just
understood as taken for granted. Consequently, when the mother migrates and is not
able to take the children with her, the responsibility for the upbringing of the children
passes on to other female members of the family. Fonseca (1991) understands female
headed households as an adaptive survival strategy, where female bonding is key for the
maintenance of the households. In this sense, when a mother or a sister are taking care
of the children of the migrant, it can be understood as shared motherhood, which is a
stronger bond than trust. For this reason female migration strengthens matrifocality,
while matrifocal households help the female migrants to migrate.

                                              28
             - The feminisation of migration

In regard to the feminisation of migration, in the past women have often been
marginalised in studies of migration. Nevertheless, women have always existed in
migration flows, traditionally as wives, daughters…etc, who mainly accompany male
migrants. Currently women count for half of the global migrants of a national and
transnational nature, yet this time they take on the major roles of breadwinners of their
households, and this fact has helped to erase the invisibility of women in migration
studies. Female labour migration has become one livelihood strategy for many poor
households. According to a report by the UN-INSTRAW (2006) women represent
49.6% of global migration flows, although this percentage changes depending on the
country. It was during the 1960s and 1970s that in migration studies men were
portrayed as the main actors and women were almost invisible, or presented as the
companions of men. Research in the 1980s started to include women, but the central
points of investigation were centred on whether women were modernised and
emancipated through migration. In the following years, women and gender focus
increased in more researches, and differences between men and women were
distinguished (Boyd and Grieco 2003). The feminisation of migration creates different
forms of migration. Migration of women focuses on an already feminised sector,
closely linked to the private sphere. According to UN-INSTRAW (2006) Dominican
migrants normally have access to “traditional” labour sectors, such as domestic work,
the garment industry, care-giving work and sex work. All of these labour sectors are
also characterised by irregularity, informality, low wages and low social prestige. In
female migration generally women have to put their families’ security and welfare over
and above their own well-being, and remittances play an important role. Women,
through remittances, maintain their children in the place of origin, and maintain their
households in both the community of origin and in the host country.

Moreover, currently the global demand for migrants focuses on the skills and roles
strongly related with women. One of the reasons for this is that in the most developed
regions of the world, the increase of women to the labour market and the deficiency of
policies to support the family and care for the children and elderly, has led to a need and
demand for migrant workers15 to cover these jobs. Also, studies almost dating to three
decades ago, such as Jelin (1977), Orlansky and Dubrovsky (1978) and Gill (1988)
remarked that domestic work is the most widely adopted kind of job for women
migrants (national and international). This employment leads to complex outcomes,
since the families which host these migrants as domestic workers are more able to gain
independence from household duties, family members might be able to enrol in
education and/or enter in paid employment on a more full time basis. Analysing the
prevalence of the current demand for domestic work, which is one of the most important
characteristics of the feminisation of work for migrants, indicates material outcomes of
migration and shows the gender segmentation of the destination labour market, for
reasons that the most accessible employment for female migrants is in the expansion of
caretaking, mothering and household roles (Lawson, 1998:47). A further group of
female migrants who are important to take into account are women who decide to
migrate and enter the sex sector in order to provide for their families.




15
     Normally, these are migrant workers because the cost of hiring them is cheaper than nationals.

                                                      29
         - Migration related to sex work

Every year female migrants cross borders seeking work possibilities, increased incomes
or the opportunity to start a better life for them and for their families. Within this
framework, employment and organisation of migrants occurs. Among migrant women
there is a considerable number that end up in sex work, whether this is of on their own
free will, or because of some type of coercion force. Kempadoo and Doezema (1998)
state that the sale of sexual labour is an integral part of the livelihood strategies of many
women from developing areas. Understanding sex work as a livelihood strategy for the
purpose of this research is crucial. Transnational sex work has to be included within the
migration parameters. Since the results of my present investigation point to sex work as
a free will decision (with its own particular forces), sex work related to trafficking is not
taking into account to a great extent. Migrant sex work is normally equated to as
trafficking in women, a concept linked to victimisation. Nevertheless, as this concept by
most definitions indicates coercion, it is not appropriate for describing the situation of
all migrant women working as sex workers. In addition to this, due to the various illegal
activities close to sex work related migration, it is very complicated to obtain a
complete picture of migrant sex workers in Europe.

Despite the high numbers of women recruited to the sex industry around the world,
which exploits the fact that there are thousands of women migrating as household
breadwinners and end up in sex work, there is little attention from academic literature
on the subject of female transnational migration related to sex work. This is even less so
in regard to the nature of this migration and the fact that these female migrants are
mothers, selling sex labour in order to maintain their children and family in the place of
origin. There are some accounts from different authors, such as Brunovskis and Tyldum
(2004), Lisborg (1998) and a recompilation of articles in a book edited by Kempadoo
and Doezema (1998). Yet, the main focus of these studies is sex work related to
trafficking and much attention is paid to exploitation aspects of prostitution, together
with the combination of the issues of sex work and AIDS. Overall there are as only
some account of sex work as a free will decision, and there is a lack of attention to
transnational motherhood and sex workers. However, within this literature there are
some points of reference that help to understand and to migration related to sex work as
a livelihood strategy among single or divorced Dominican migrant mother. Brunovskis
and Tyldum (2004) and Lisborg (1998) propose an analysis of the mechanism and paths
that women migrants working in sex work normally follow. First, there is a desire to go
abroad, women who decide to migrate and enter the sex work sector, may appreciate
the opportunity of travelling, expecting they will find a regular job and an escape from
the financial insecurity in their countries of origin. Second, there is a need for assistance
and organised travel, where women migrants from developing areas travelling abroad
to more developed countries, tend to organise the migration through social networks,
because it offers the security and practicalities that the new migrant needs. Third, there
is a poor control of outcome. This last point was not the case for my research since the
authors refer to victims of trafficking, who rely on recruiters and the recruiters’
networks when migrating. This, together with a lack of the knowledge of the language
of the new country, poor economic assets, and possibly fake documentation, makes
these women easy targets for exploitation by recruiters from the sex industry. Some
other women do not enter sex work upon their arrival, but for different reasons might
fail to integrate in the new society. They do not therefore succeed in their initial plans
for a new life, and in some cases this, together with the pressure of having to support


                                             30
their households back in the place of origin, makes that sex work then becomes an
option that might not have been considered before they left their country.

The decision to migrate and enter into the sex trade is taken as a response to the same
type of background situation. Both working abroad in a regular job and going into
prostitution give the possibility to improve financial situations. However, in order to
assess the decision of entering sex work, it is imperative to look at the context of where
and when the decision is taken. According to Brunovskis and Tyldum (2004) two
features regarding the role of other actors are key in this sense. First, the extent to which
women have social networks with other women with experience in migration related to
sex work is important, since the existence of these networks helps to lower the barrier
for this particular decision. Second, to what extent the choice was made by the woman
herself or whether it was a household decision is also key. According to Brunovskis and
Tyldum (2004), this theoretical perspective of networks is especially important to
analyse those female migratory movements in which women decide of their own free
will (or as a household decision) to migrate and enter the sex sector, since their social
networks of those who sell sex labour help to facilitate the entrance to this work. Apart
from offerings which social networks give in the majority of migratory experiences,
such as the necessary tools to settle in the new environment, the social networks in the
sex trade may also provide information and practical assistance in finding and serving
the first client. Importantly, they also help to show the new sex worker migrant the
possibility of carrying a double life, keeping her sex work as a secret. The study carried
out by Brunovskis and Tyldum (2004), shows that their respondents saw migration as
an advantage when having to work in the sex industry as a livelihood strategy, since this
gives them the necessary anonymity to work in the sex trade.

In regard to what extent the choice was made by the woman herself or whether it was a
household decision, there are indeed situations where the decision to migrate is taking at
a household level. In some cases (albeit rarely) the whole household decides to migrate.
In some other cases, the household decides to send someone abroad in order to receive
money back to the household. The study carried by Lisborg (1998), demonstrates that in
some cases of migration from Thailand to Europe, the migration of an individual
woman is part of a household decision. The study by Brunovskis and Tyldum (2004)
indicates that Albanian women normally migrate as a result of a household choice. In
these cases where migration is the product of a household decision, it is imperative to
not only to look at the networks among the migrant women, but also at the composition
and structure of the household she comes from, and at the position she holds in her
family. However, there is a knowledge gap concerning households among the lower
class and of a matrifocal nature, where a woman makes the decision to migrate because
they have the responsibilities both of the breadwinner and caregiver roles, as is the case
of the Dominican Republic. They decide to migrate in order to fulfil their financial
obligations, and in doing so they have to count on the support from their close female
relatives in order to pass them their caregivers roles of taking care of their children. In
this case, the decision to migrate and enter sex work is a household decision, since the
migrant first has to make use of her social networks and then decides to migrate in
collaboration with her close female relatives.

Moreover, according to Brunovskis and Tyldum (2004), there are three central causes
that can lead to deciding to migrate and enter the sex sector; in response to an acute
crisis, long-term financial difficulties and wanting more from life. First, they found that
a common reason for migrating and entering sex work can be an answer to a particular

                                             31
instance when there is a sharp financial crisis. These crises can be of a purely financial
nature, such as the loss of a job, bankruptcy of their own business, etc. They can also
take the form of a household and/or relationship based crisis, which then leads to a
financial crisis. An example of this would be a women being left by a husband or
partner upon whom she was financially dependent, in which case the relationship crisis
is quickly followed by a financial one. Second, long term financial difficulties can also
be a main reason for women to travel abroad and start working as sex workers. Third,
Kempadoo and Doezema (1998) also found a group of women who describe the reasons
to migrate as being related to wanting more from life than a regular day-job can give.
Normally, this group is composed particularly of those women who have freely chosen
to enter into sex work. However, despite the three different types of reasoning, all
Kempadoo and Doezema’s respondents have one thing in common: the need for money.
In addition to this, according to Brunovskis and Tyldum (2004), generally women who
have worked in sex work, both through coercion or through their own free will, find it
difficult to reintegrate into society when they try to go back to their old lives. After a
while they some of them decide to go back into sex work, either in their home countries
or abroad.


       II. Transnational Migration

In the field of migration studies there has been a tendency to either focus on migrants in
the host countries, or on the impact of this migration in the communities of origin.
Nevertheless, the reality of migration needs to be studied from a broader perspective,
since migration produces new structures in the receiving places, as well as maintaining
social and economic relations linking societies of origin and destination. During the
early 1990s transnational migration was introduced with the idea of connecting
together -in a simultaneous way- the two different branches of the study of migration.
This takes into account the connection of the sending and receiving countries
(Mazzucato 2007:2), offering an alternative analytic position in international migration
studies and focussing on the regular relations between migrants and the sending
communities (Portes et al 2002). Transnational migration, with its current meaning was
introduced by the social anthropologists Schiller, Basch and Szanton (1992). They show
the need of new concepts with which to understand the in-between life of migrants. ‘We
have defined transnationalism as the process by which immigrants build social fields
that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement. Immigrants
who build such social fields are designated ‘transmigrants’” (Schiller et al 1992:1). In
1994, they define transnational migration again as a concept: “the processes by which
immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their
societies of origin and settlements” (Schiller 1994:7). Vertovec (1999: 447) as well as
arguing that transnationalism as a concept of research has a very wide diversity of
descriptions, also focuses on the idea that transnationalism entails bonds and
interactions, connecting people across the borders of a nation state. Furthermore, Portes
et al (1999) and Levitt (2001) define transnationalism as a sphere in which people live
dual lives, meaning that they have a “home” in two different countries or regions, and
these lives are engaged in activities that need constant contacts across national borders.
This for example was the case in an important part of my research, where Dominican
female migrants in the Netherlands are mother to their children in the Dominican
Republic, while working for the maintenance of these children as a sex worker in the
Netherlands. In addition, Portes (1999) indicated that these activities are not only
concerned with economy, but contain political, cultural and religious initiatives as well

                                           32
(1999: 464). Since the concept of transnational migration seems to be the more inclusive
of theoretical models on offer, it is used for the study of this research, as it helps for a
better understanding of the discourse of motherhood in the migration process.

       - Social networks

A key characteristic in the analysis of transnational migration is the formation or
maintenance of social structures, namely networks. This has been possible due to the
developments in communication and transportation technologies, which have led to an
easier maintenance of bonds between the migrants and their families in the place of
origin. As a consequence of this, migrants and the families of migrants have become
part of social networks in the place of origin and destiny. Regardless of its recent
recognition, the subject of social networks is not new in migration studies. For example,
Anderson (1974); MacDonal and MacDonald (1964); Ritchey (1976), all cited in Boyd
(1989), studied the process of chain migration and the position played by relatives and
friends in offering information and in assisting in the migration. Yet recent migration
tendencies and a new conceptualisation of migration inspire the current interest in the
role of the family and friends of the migrants, based in both the place of origin and
destination. Including social networks in the analysis of migration alleviated some
dilemmas of more simplistic approaches to migration research. According to Boyd
(1989) social networks form social and economic structures for the individual, family
and community. Social networks also transmit information about places of destination,
and supply help for the settlement of the migrant in the new place. Vertovec (2001)
indicates that “For migrants, social networks are crucial for finding jobs and
accommodation, circulating goods and services, as well as psychological support and
continuous social and economic information” (Vertovec 2001:13). This web of
networks is also referred to by Portes (1995) who suggests that migration in itself can be
conceptualised as network structure, which depends on and, in turn, strengthens social
relationships across space. Consequently, taking into account social networks allows us
to understand migration as a social result, rather than just an individual decision. Nor is
it to be understood as a unique social or political consequence, but as a convergence of
these different parameters. For this, households are crucial components in social
network based migration, because households, being sustenance units have their own
structural features that influence the tendency to migrate, the type of migration and who
migrates. Furthermore, households transmit standards about the significance of
migration and the maintenance of household based obligation over time and space
(Boyd 1989). Portes (1995) explains how migration not only depends on social
networks, but also creates them. In particular, thanks to the high technology era
(computers, email, video conferencing, mobiles, telephone cards, etc) relationships have
formed a complex system, which creates a central point of transnational networks and
which does not only create new social relations, but helps to maintain existing ones
(Vertovec 1999: 449). The increasing transnational networks are helping to change
economic, social, cultural and political relationships. Gupta and Ferguson (1992) claim
that something like a transnational arena has created an identity that does not rely on
face to face relationships. Therefore, transnationalism has forced the creation of new
concepts of community politics, solidarity, identity, and cultural differences.

There are also those who primarily pay attention to a more negative point of view of
transnational social networks (such as the United States Department of Defence) which
believes that transnational networks have strong links with for example terrorism,
human trafficking, trafficking of drugs, weapons, pornography…etc (Vertovec, 1999:

                                            33
450). Portes (1998) indicates the importance of noting the negative and less desirable
consequences of the transnational social networks. This is in order to get a balanced
picture of the forces played by social networks and to keep the analysis within the
margin of serious sociological analysis, rather than moral statements. Portes (1998)
highlights four main negative consequences of social networks. First is the exclusion of
outsiders. Second is the development of this exclusion of outsiders, because group
closure may enhance the success of businesses initiatives by their members. Third is the
restriction on individual freedom. In a village all members know each other and the
level of social control influences the freedom of the individual, because the individual
might face scrutiny from his/her community. This for instance was found in my research
focussed on the village of Juan de Herrera, where strong social networks are the main
tool for women to migrate and subsequently enter sex work in the Netherlands, and at
the same time these women run the risk of being the centre of gossip and scrutiny from
members of their community, because, as Portes notes, the privacy and autonomy of
individuals are reduced through social networks. Four there are situations in which webs
of social networks are created based on experiences of adversity and opposition to
mainstream society. Solidarity and trust within the group give the basis for
socioeconomic rise and entrepreneurial development among some groups, while among
others they have the opposite effect. Sex work offers examples of how embeddedness in
social structure can be turned to less than socially desirable ends. Petree and Vargas
(2005) found in their transnational migration research between the Dominican Republic
and Switzerland that the first waves of migration were carried out by the wealthiest
families. Then, once they were settled, these migrants negotiated contracts in the host
countries for their neighbours, friends or relatives who then also migrated. In this way
bit by bit, a large social network was created to facilitate migration. Moreover, social
networks play an important role when determining the costs related to migration. Most
of the time, in order to get the documents, jobs and accommodation in the host country,
the intermediary asks for a fee to sort all this out. But in the cases in which the
intermediary is a relative or a friend of the migrants, normally speaking there is no fee.
Finally, the complicated social networks are maintained by a frequent swap of
communication, favours and a sense of reciprocity (Petree & Vargas 2005).

        - The transnational household

According to Boyd (1989) households with migrants signify a geographically disperse
social group. They create kinship networks that exist across space and are the conduits
for information and assistance and they are known as transnational households. These
transnational households have been defined by Brycesson and Vuereda (2002), as
households that live separated most of the time, but remain united and create a
collective feeling of well-being and unity. These transnational households imply the
maintenance of emotional and financial links among members of the family across
national borders. To achieve this, the work involved in maintaining these transnational
households is built on the basis of communication, sending money and periodic visit by
mothers, fathers and children. Within the literature on families there has been little
recognition of transnational households. Moreover, within international migration
literature the means by which immigrants sustain transnational household and kinship
ties has been largely under investigated. It seems that the reason transnational
households have not received enough academic acknowledgment, is because the
majority of scholars perceive the migrant as an independent player. Nevertheless, there
seems to be increasing attention to the roles and functioning of transnational
households, especially since it has been recognised that there is a growth in

                                           34
transnational migration. The current studies of transnational households or families have
been aimed principally on household strategies and gender role restructuring (Landolt
and Da 2005, Mahler 2001, Sorensen 2005). In these studies, transnational households
tend to be characterised by the presence of one household head, either the husband or
wife, residing abroad, with the children in the country of origin or in the process of
migrating to the host country. In these studies the household is usually based on the
conventional construction– mother, father and children. However, in the case of the
Dominican Republic it is fundamental to recognise the different kinds of familial
structures, which affect the decision to migrate and the consequences of migration in a
number of distinct manners.

According to ECLAC16 studies from 1990 to 2005, there has been a transformation in
the household structure, especially in urban areas. The most popular model of a nuclear
household (bi-parental) has been on the decrease in urban areas, whereas the percentage
of mono-parental households, especially female led, has increased. The last comment is
an important one in order to understand the transformation of the “model” household,
where the man/husband/father tended to be the main financial provider, while the
woman/wife/mother was in charge of the household duties on a full time basis and the
main carer of the family. Currently in Latin America, the woman has stopped being only
a housewife and is now also another financial provider, and in many cases the only one.
This situation leads to a double burden on female labour, remunerated in the public
sphere and unremunerated in the private sphere. This means that women have to fulfil
financial needs and are also responsible for the household duties and caregiver roles
(Arriagada: 2007:11-13). According to Norberg (2003) women’s rights, and their
capacity to exercise influence in the household, are closely linked with their capability
to find employment in the public arena and receive independent income. The new trend
of an increase number of women entering the labour market is leading to female
economic emancipation, but it is very questionable if it is also leading to a personal
emancipation. This is even more the case in the situation of the Dominican Republic,
since this society is characterised by a matrifocal household system, meaning that
women are the head of the households, covering both the care and breadwinner roles.
The organisation of Caribbean household relations, the implication of motherhood and
fatherhood, as well as what male and female family members expect from each other, is
often represented as matrifocal.

Literarily, matrifocal means a focus on the mother. Thus in these families women are
the key for emotional and economic matters, and the image of motherhood tends to be
central to womanhood. According to Ypeij and Steenbeek (2001) the relationships
between mothers and children are the basis for the household unit, and according to
Safa (2005) the mother-child tie is especially strong. Usually the norm of this family
unit includes other female relatives, thus leading to an extended household. These
extended households in the Dominican Republic are higher among female headed
households than among the male headed ones. Female extended households play a key
role in supporting single mothers, since they do not only supply housing and economic
support, but crucial child care support as a form of shared motherhood. These family
networks offer women more security than a male partner would do17. This allows the
single mother to work and in some cases to migrate, as in the cases of my research.

16
 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
17
  Dominican male partners are referred to by Dominican women of my research to as butterfly men,
meaning that they just enter a family household, have sexual relations, bed and food, and after some time

                                                   35
The matrifocal family has been given academic interest since the 1930s. In the
beginning scholarly attention on matrifocality started from the notion that it was an
abnormality in the nuclear family. The absence of men, as fathers and husbands, was
understood to be problematic and as leading to instability. During the 1950s, a key
debate in cultural anthropology in the Caribbean considered the causes and
consequences of matrifocality, or mother-centred households. Herskovits (1958) argued
that matrifocal households were rooted in African heritage and slavery. However, in the
1970s, critical and feminist social theorists challenged this perception of matrifocality,
giving emphases on sexuality, subjective meaning, social networks and support among
female relatives. Smith (1996, republished from 1956) introduced the term matrifocality
indicating the fundamental position of women in low-class family households in the
Caribbean, stressing the impact of class and racial structure on the male role and also
arguing that matrifocality should not be merely confused with female headed
households:

    “…a woman in the status of “mother” is usually the de facto leader of the group,
    and conversely the husband-father, although de jure head of the household group
    (if present), is usually marginal to the complex of internal relationship of the
    group.” (Smith 1996a:14)

Safa (2005) argues that matrifocality has deep historical roots in all regions of the
Caribbean, and is an alternative household model originating in the black lower class,
where consanguine ties were more central than the conjugal bond. In both Anglophone
and Hispanic areas official ideology attacked matrifocal households as deviant and
disorganised, since they discard marriage and do not follow the rules of the colonial
pattern of a nuclear married family and the male breadwinner, as was the norm among
the middle class and elite families. Safa maintains the idea that matrifocality is extended
along with the degree of female economic independence, and that male marginalisation
varies. Men perhaps live in the matrifocal household, but are economically marginalised
when women are required to take more economical autonomy. This process, Safa
argues, may culminate in female headed households in which men (as husbands or
partners) are not permanently living.

Ypeij (2009) considered three positions in which scientific debate on the origin of the
matrifocal system can be divided. First is that of Herskovits, who describes the
matrifocal family as a cultural trace of African roots, where the role of the mother is a
extension of the African model, males have a marginal position in the households and
each wife has her own shelter with her children. In this social organisation, men covered
the roles in the public sector, meaning in the clan and the lineage. The fact that the roles
of women and children were based in the private sphere lead to the survival of their
roles, because it was easier to maintain them through the slavery period, while men’s
roles were impossible to preserve. Second alone the lines of Frazier (1939),
matrifocality was considered a consequence of the destructive history of slavery with its
prohibition on the marriage of slaves. Male marginality is understood as an outcome of
a lack of male roles and status in family relations, and in a more general socio economic
context. Third, the work of Smith (1996) is developed from the view of Frazier, where
the lack of presence of the husband/father is a consequence of his low status in the
overall society system. In the typical stratified societies of the Caribbean, social

they leave to do the same in another woman’s family household, in a similar manner as a butterfly stops
to feed from one flower, and then moves on to the next one.

                                                  36
mobility is very limited. This is because the work available to men from lower classes
does not give family status and as the salary is also uncertain, men cannot embark on
full breadwinner roles.

For the purpose of this research, it is convenient to hold the belief that on the subject of
matrifocality, all factors should be taken into account in order to understand the overall
picture. Thus, matrifocality can be summarised as a family system where single or
divorced mothers and women headed households are a frequent phenomenon. In these
matrifocal families, motherhood encompasses emotional and material care and female
kinship social networks and support play a crucial role for the maintenance of
households. Yet there is not an exclusion of the importance of men as sons and brothers.
This form of matrifocality is a key element to understanding and contextualising the
migration of Dominican women. Because of the current economic situation in the
Dominican Republic, transnational migration is one way found by women to
emancipate themselves, or a solution to supporting their families. One of its
repercussions in the place of origin is, that because transnational mothers rely on other
women to take care of their children, these women offer the migrants the economic and
emotional stability necessary, but are also burdened with more responsibilities.

       - Transnational motherhood

‘Single’ or ‘divorced’ mothers are ways of labelling mothers raising their children
without the cohabitation of a male partner. Ypeij (2009) argues that the fact of using
adjectives such as single means that these women are set apart as a particular category,
which indicates that mothers are expected to share their households with a male partner.
In other words single motherhood is a gendered position in society, indicating that the
meaning connected to single mothers is shaped by the perspectives related to marriage,
the nuclear family unit (father, mother and children), male breadwinners, and a relation
of husband and wife. Within academic parameters there is also a negative view
connected to single motherhood, which refers to it as a social problem, such as in the
work of Lewis (1960) and Wilson (1990) mentioned in Ypeij (2009), where single
motherhood is seen as a sign of social decline. A very important point I wish to make is,
that in this thesis when I refer to single or divorced mothers, this is a reference to the
fact that they are bringing up their children without the financial and/or emotional
support from the father of the children. They are however not alone nor lacking of
agency, on the contrary these women form a web of female kinship social networks that
support themselves and take action such as migrating in order to survive.

According to Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila (1997), feminist scholars have always
confronted rigid ideas of family and motherhood that refer women to the domestic arena
of arena of private/public dichotomies and depend on the ideas of combining family,
women, reproduction, and nurturing. Rethinking the family also means rethinking the
concept of motherhood, which then leads to understand the exaltation of isolated,
privatised mothering as traditionally and culturally specific. Thus, while being a mother
implies the notions of nurturing, child rearing and training of the children up until
adulthood, there are different types of motherhood that are discerned by culture and
class. Hence, it is important to understand the contents of the concepts of motherhood as
historically and socially constructed, rather than biologically predetermined. An
increasing number of women from Latin America and the Caribbean have migrated to
other countries in search of jobs, leaving their children in their place of origin with
grandmothers, sisters or other female kin, sometimes with paid caregivers or in some

                                            37
cases with the children’s fathers. This represents one variation of motherhood, called
transnational motherhood in academia, meaning a reorganisation of the priorities of
being a mother, to conform to the distance and separation between the mother and her
children.

These migrant mothers carry out their motherhood in a transnational manner, based on
phone calls, email…etc. Being able to provide for the children’s wellbeing is a common
apprehension of motherhood. Transnational mothers try to provide for their children
through earning money abroad, which entails a physical separation from their children.
Thus, according to Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila (1997), the migrant women who leave
their children in the country of origin are creating alternative ways of motherhood.
These mothers do not seem to be doing a linear progression of a way of motherhood
that involves daily, face to face caregiving. They are substituting caregiving with
breadwinning definitions; they seem to be increasing the typical definition of
motherhood to include breadwinning, which may need long term physical separations.
Normally these women hold the belief that they can do better for their children by
migrating, while the children stay in the place of origin. According to the results
obtained from the research carried by Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila (1997),
transnational mothers declare that caregiving is a defining feature of their mothering
experiences. They want to get better clothing, nutrition, and schooling for their
children, and this can be done by migrating and working abroad. However, these
women know that this decision is painful and can have some negative effects on their
children, and they also recognise that the migration process is a sacrifice, especially the
fact of being separated from their children

Transnational motherhood opposes both dominant white middle class models of
motherhood in the West, as well as ideological notions from Latina America and the
Caribbean. The effects of female transnational migration on traditional caretaking
duties are a subject of much public examination and sometimes also academic attention.
Since care itself is a valuable resource, some argue that the children of migrants are the
most affected by this migration movement. In a study carried out by UN-INSTRAW
(2006), it is mentioned that “care deficits” suffered by the children of migrants have
been blamed for a number of problems, such as teenage pregnancies, poor academic
performance, drugs and crime. Sorensen and Levitt (2004) indicate that when
Dominican women migrate, they act against the myths of domesticity, morality and
motherhood. When men migrate they do not face the same degree of public scrutiny, in
particular regarding the aspect of leaving children behind. Sorensen (2004) mentions
that it is a mistake to blame the mother, since their aim with migration is in the first
place to provide a better future for their children, and motherhood represents a
prominent social, economic and emotional force behind the women’s decision to
migrate. Overall little attention has been given to the reproductive sphere in this work
and this is being redressed gradually. Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila (1997) discuss
transnational motherhood and the manner in which women fulfil their role as a
‘mother’, despite living in a different country to their children. The transnational point
of view in migration studies is constructive when conceptualising relationships across
borders.

         - Chains of care

In the majority of the female migrant cases the migrants are single or divorced mothers
and the main reason they migrate is for the wellbeing of the family and their children.

                                            38
Consequently, the chains of care take a central role in the development of the
transnational responsibility of motherhood. Female transnational migration for social
reproductive jobs, such as caring for other in the receiving countries, has led to what
Hochschild (2000) called the “global care chains”, meaning a “series of personal links
between people across the globe based on the paid or unpaid work of caring”
(Hochschild 2000:131). Female migrants working in the domestic sector are an example
of this as the demand is increasing from the wealthiest countries. These global care
chains mean that women from poorer countries focus on work that involves taking care
of others, while their relatives are taken care of by other women in the family, or
sometimes one resorts to hiring a paid domestic worker. These domestic workers who
work in the migrant’s household in the place of origin are normally internal migrants, or
from neighbouring countries, such as Haiti in the case of the Dominican Republic (UN-
INSTRAW 2007). But the increasing trend of these global chains of care is women
from developing countries, such as the Dominican Republic, migrating to cover the
caregiving roles in wealthier countries, such as the United States of America and more
recently Europe. These migrant women are covering caregiver roles that women from
Europe cannot cover, since these women are employed in the public arena.

Thus, these global chains of care entail networks of transnational dimensions that are
formed for the purpose of maintaining daily life in the host country, and helping to
maintain the role of a mother for the migrant, by becoming a transnational mother.
These chains consist of households which relocate their care giving tasks from one to
another according to power axes and culture patterns influence by gender, ethnicity,
social class and place of origin. For women there is a transfer of gender inequalities
along transnational paths of migration which support daily life through paid and unpaid
labour. This is because men and women have a very dissimilar existence in these
networks. The responsibilities in providing care normally fall on women. According to a
research carried out by UN-INSTRAW (2007), the creation of these chains is in
response to the concurrence of structural adjustment programs, and consequent
neoliberal reforms, which have had an unequal effect on women in developing
countries. The feminisation of global survival paths is one of the economic strategies
chosen by households in order to survive in circumstances of poverty and/or crisis.
Thus, the structure of these households varies, becoming what has been mentioned
before as transnational households. For that reason, at the root of these chains is the
prioritised ascription of women as those in charge of guaranteeing the sustainability of
their households. This means that migration implies a new organisation of the
households. Thus, in the transnational household, the physical separation of the migrant
women from their children means a redistribution of the care giving tasks.

        - Remittances
With this research I have also attempted to describe and analyze patterns of remittances.
The reason for paying attention to remittances is that within the framework of
transnationalism, remittances, according to Guarnizo (2003), make one of the most
important, visible and widespread links between the migrants and the sending
communities. In addition to this, remittances need to be taken into consideration, since
in the majority of cases the migrant migrates in order to improve a financial situation.
Yet it is interesting to consider two types of remittances, the economic ones and what
some authors refer to as social remittances.




                                           39
Economic remittances are the money and goods that migrants send to their households
of origin, usually to help their family’s daily basic needs. These remittances have been
growing very rapidly for the last 25 years, becoming one of the main sources of income
for many migrant sending developing countries, including the Dominican Republic. It is
important to bear in mind the difficulty in estimating the amount of remittances since in
many cases the transfer is done in an unofficial manner (Ratha 2005). Thus the main
role that remittances play is targeted at the well-being of the migrant’s household of
origin, in order to meet specific needs to reduce poverty, such as consumption goods,
housing, health care and the children’s education. In other cases, where the household is
wealthier, remittances might be used to give capital to small businesses and/or pay
debts. Nevertheless, it is also important to note some negative sides of remittances. For
instance, the fact of sending money can create a culture of dependency for the members
of the family in the place of origin. In addition to this, there are also human costs,
meaning that migrants have to make major sacrifices to send the money, such as
working extremely hard to be able to survive as well as send remittances (Ratha 2005).
Moreover, according to the study carried out by Petree and Vargas (2005), the flows of
remittances from host to country of origin differ in patterns depending on who sends the
money. Women send money usually to other women, mainly mothers and sisters. This
pattern of sending money from women to women is crucial to the way money is used,
since women in the receiving households tend to use the remittances for the wellbeing
of the family, rather for personal consumption. Furthermore, these remittances have
economic and social impacts. First of all, the economic impact can be found in housing
transformation, creation of employment and business investment. Second the social
impact is what has been called by other authors social remittances. However, there are
some debates on questions as yet unanswered in regard to the difference between social
remittances, the impact of remittances and the impact of migration. Within the
framework of transnational migration, we can find the transfer of ideas, knowledge,
beliefs …etc, between the sending and receiving places. Levitt (2001) refers to this
transfer of ideas and beliefs that occur within transnational migration across borders as
social remittances. Sorensen and Levitt (2004) argue that social remittances are the key
to understanding how migration modifies the lives of those who remain behind, since
they influence the family.

 “The advantage of adopting a social as well as a financial definition of remittances
 is that it allows to understand migration as a social process in which migrants are
 potential agents of economic, social and political change”(Sorensen & Levitt,
 2004:4).

These social remittances can include the creation of a dual and conflicting social status
of the migrant and they influence transnational motherhood, changes in gender roles and
power relationships within the household, and changes in caretaking roles, as well as
educational opportunities for the next generation. Also, empirical factual knowledge
gained by the female migrants (in Europe and the USA) is exported to their
communities of origin. This means that they transfer their new perceptions and ideas to
their communities of origin (thanks to the globalisation of communication, telephone
cards, and internet). Nevertheless, the simple idea that women from the South find a
way to ensure their personal emancipation and freedom in the North, as a consequence
of egalitarian gender norms, should be avoided, since for example Dominicans migrants
in the USA and Europe tend to have only access to already feminised jobs, such as
domestic work, the garment industry, care-giving work, catering and sex work. All of


                                           40
these labour sectors tend to be characterised by irregularity, informality, low wages and
low social prestige.

Faist (2007) argues that even though financial remittances are always important within
transnational migration, these tend to come together with social remittances. According
to a study carried out by UN-INSTRAW in 2005 on remittances to Latin America,
social remittances strengthen and promote notions of gender equality. For example,
women can exercise more authority in the decisions over the way money should be
spent, since they are the ones earning it. Petree & Vargas (2005) also record an
important change in gender relations, where for instance migrant women help to change
abusive behaviour of male relatives towards women in the family, because while they
are abroad these women migrants are raising consciousness about and a new level of
intolerance toward domestic violence or abuses. They introduce this new attitude (which
will be the social remittance) into their families (through social networks). The women
in the sending community, who are in contact with the women migrants abroad, use
these social remittances to create new ways of womanhood. Finally, through the social
remittances, the way migration influences the expectations of the members of the
community of origin plays an important role for the adolescents of the community. This
migration impacts on the dreams and plans of the next generation of adolescents.
Adolescents of the sending community see migration as an escape route for their
situation of poverty and this leads to hopes centred on the idea of leaving the country.


   III. The Social Impact of Transnational Migration on Gender Norms & Relations
   between Women & Men.

Moving on to my last point of the theoretical framework, I would like to offer some
interesting results obtained from other studies looking at female transnational migration.
It has been observed by different scholars that some of the impacts of female
transnational migration, are, that the fact of being in a different country might change
women’s status and the gender relations between men and women in the receiving
country, as well as in the sending communities, since female migrants engage in new
economic roles and therefore obtain new responsibilities that influence marriage or
couple relationships. The literature of feminisation of transnationalism identifies two
main points of status that might be altered through migration. The first one concerns the
position that female migrants have in the household. In some cases women’s social
mobility, independence and autonomy might improve. This normally happened for
those women who experienced an increased participation in the labour market due to the
migration process. These new economic and social responsibilities can lead to an
alteration in the distribution of control and power in the household, meaning more
authority and control over decision making regarding the family’s assets. Moreover, this
can also have a positive impact on the relationships between women, men, as well as
also children (Boyd and Grieco 2003). Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that
this participation in a new economy does not necessarily imply improvement in gender
equality within families, because in some cases women migrants’ participation in the
labour market can mean a double burden of paid and domestic work, unless there are
alternatives for those traditional gender roles. According to Boyd and Grieco (2003) the
second aspect that literature on women and migration comments on in regard to the
aspect of status, is, in some cases women migrants go from one gender hierarchical
system in their country of origin, to another in the host country. This is because


                                           41
migration might be able to change the social status of women migrants in their own
community, but not their positions within the household.

There have been a number of studies based on fieldwork research that has paid attention
to the description given by Boyd and Grieco on the impact of transnational migration on
gender roles and relations between women and men, although they are very few in
number. Some of these are Taylor et al (2004), Boehm (2008), Levitt (2001, 1998) and
Petree and Vargas (2005). Together they offer interesting results from their respective
investigations. Boehm (2008) confronts the idea that many scholars claim that migration
from Mexico to the United States benefits women by challenging traditional gender
roles. In the case of her field study in San Luis Potosi and New Mexico, she shows that
migration is a very complex interaction between men and women in which in particular
cases and through negotiations, women might experience more autonomy, but also
confront the reassertion of male power. In regard to the situation in which women are
the migrants, their views about traditional gender roles, relations, and ideologies at
home inevitably change. According to Taylor et al (2004), women migrants currently
tend to behave in a more dynamic and autonomous way. Such an attitudinal
transformation is mainly apparent when women migrate to the United States or Europe,
where they find themselves working and earning their own salary and do not want to
become dependent on their husbands, partners or other male relatives if they return to
their home communities. Moreover, Petree and Vargas (2005) noticed in their research
on female migrants from the Dominican Republic to Switzerland, that women who earn
a salary abroad and send remittances to their families cover the traditional masculine
role of the breadwinner. In this situation, Petree and Vargas noticed that female
migrants gain a better status in the family, which might lead to change in some rooted
unequal traditional roles. However, Petree and Vargas failed to acknowledge the
matrifocal nature of Dominican households among the lower classes. For that reason
Petree and Vargas’s findings differ from mine, since I include the importance of
analysing female migration from the Dominican Republic with attention to the
matrifocality of Dominican households.

In addition, women’s experience of the western culture gives them novel forms of
perceiving and acting out their male–female relationships. It was noticed in the study
carried by Taylor et al (2004) and Petree and Vargas (2005) that this contact and
employment experience often helps female migrants break away from the restraints
rooted in gender norms. Female migrants not only feel that they gain greater gender
equity, but also a greater awareness and consciousness of how to cope with domestic
violence, and this new attitude is introduced into their families. This is crucial, as the
ideas that returnees take back about domestic violence and about state intervention may
begin to influence gender ideologies back home. Adopting this perspective of
transnational migration gives women opportunities for more independent, confident,
and less submissive ways of life. Levitt (2001) notes in her research, about Dominican
female migration to Boston, that these migrant women changed their minds about
women’s roles as a consequence of their introduction to the labour market. Moreover,
they also transmit these new notions to their communities of origin, where women in the
community used these social remittances to create alternatives to their ideas about
womanhood.

It has been mentioned before that even if women change their views and identity, this
does not automatically imply dramatic changes in their relationships with men. As is
explained by Taylor et al (2004) migration cannot be automatically translated into

                                           42
strengthening women’s gender roles and relations, particularly when analysed from the
perspective of the migrants’ places of origin. While women in Latin America and the
Caribbean become more aware of other options and lifestyles, the rigid structure and
social norms back home do not permit women to act on their new found freedom and
desires for equality and change in male–female relationships. According to Boehm
(2008) in the case of women migrating, but in the company of men, such as husband,
brothers or other male relatives, the freedom that they might get through paid work is
seen to be burdened because they also have to carry out household duties in the
receiving country. They are also still under the control of their male counterparts, which
does not offer a change compared with being in their community of origin.
Nevertheless, women do not react passively to this, and challenge this situation through
criticisms of men among their female networks (Boehm 2008:25-26). In turn this could
be taken to mean that women will be looking for a different pattern in men, maybe those
who show more equalitarian ways of treating their female counterparts.




                                           43
V. Five Cases studied
                     “Female migration is our daily bread in my country”

This chapter mainly focuses on the results gathered through research on the cases of five
Dominican women migrants, along with their corresponding households in the
Dominican Republic. In addition to this, findings from interviews with other individuals
who are related to the migrants are also included. The focus developed in this chapter is
based on migration as a livelihood strategy for Dominican women and on how their
families perceive this migration of their women, sisters and mothers to the Netherlands,
and how they are affected by the decision to migrate. In migrating, a space for a
transnational household is created and the concept of transnational motherhood appears.
In addition, the pattern and characteristics of remittances are also studied in this chapter,
consisting of the economic aspects along with the social perspectives. This is due to the
fact that remittances entail long distance social ties of solidarity and obligations that
bond the migrants with their families. In order to get a better understanding of the
findings exposed, it is vital to first describe the sample. First, the female migrants are
described, accompanied by the main characteristics of their households in the place of
origin and the relationship with the migrants. Second, some individuals that were related
to the female migrants, such as neighbours, relatives and friends in the host country of
migration18, also formed part of the research.

The five women migrants are Emma, Isabel, Viviana, Rosario and Nieves19. The first
four women are from Santo Domingo, the capital city, while Nieves is from Santiago20,
the second biggest city after Santo Domingo21. A further characteristic about these five
women is that they had not attended university, although they all went to secondary
school and two of them had finished high school. This was, as they explained, because
they had to help financially in their household at an early age. Furthermore, neither they
nor their families had the money to continue covering the costs of education. Moreover,
all of them fell pregnant when very young. Thus being a mother, together with their
financial situation, led them to stop studying early on. The age range of these five
women is between 25 and 47. In correlation with this, the range of years abroad is from
2 to 20, meaning that the majority of them arrived in the Netherlands when they were in
their 20s. This is important to bear in mind when looking at each particular case, since it
entails different migration flows, along with different procedures to arrive in the country
of migration (the Netherlands and Spain). For example, the first migrant women who
came to the Netherlands and Spain were able to come with a job contract, as was the
case of Viviana, Rosario and Nieves, and so their status was legal at the time of arrival.
In contrast, Emma and Isabel, who both arrived in the Netherlands two and three years
ago respectively, came with a tourist visa. Once this visa had expired they became non-
documented migrants in the Netherlands. This is due to a hardening of migration laws.
Getting the right documents to stay legally in the host country has become more
difficult, which is making the migration experiences even more complicated and

18
   Please refer to Appendix I: Box of 5 cases/relation migrant><family.
19
   Please refer to Appendix I: Table with main characteristic of the five female migrants
20
   Please refer to Appendix IV: Map of Dominican Republic
21
   This is an important detail, since in the big cities social networks and migration work differently than in
   small town or villages. Comparing the findings from the research carried out in Juan the Herrera (a
   village) with the five cases studied from Santo Domingo and Santiago, it can be seen that social
   networks in the community of Juan de Herrera play a greater role in deciding where the migrants go,
   what type of jobs they work in …etc.

                                                     44
expensive. In addition to this, the differences in the year that the migrant migrated are
also visible in the type of work upon arrival. The main distinction here is for those that
have some link with sex work in Amsterdam.

Although this has not been able to be studied in depth, there seems to be a trend in which
female migrants from the Dominican Republic are not choosing to enter the sex sector in
the Netherlands as much as other Dominican female migrants tended to in previous
decades. This is what I was able to notice while working in the MEP project, distributing
a magazine for Hispanic speaking sex workers in the Red Light District22 of Amsterdam.
It was clear to see that Dominican sex workers working in the windows of this area are
at least 40 years old. I only noticed a couple of them in their 20s or early 30s. This
notion of there being a decrease in new young Dominican migrant women entering the
sex industry in the Netherlands was also reinforced by interviews with households in the
Dominican Republic. Those households which had a female migrant in their 40s, 50s
and above working in the Netherlands, seemed to be more reluctant to talk about the
type of work the migrant was doing abroad. Whereas those households whose migrant in
the Netherlands was young, such as the case of Emma, were very direct in answering
questions related to the work she was doing abroad. As a researcher and as has been
mentioned in methodology section, these doubts and a reluctance to answer questions
about the work of the migrant have led me to assume the possibility of these migrants
working in the sex industry. This could indicate that new Dominican female migrants are
not considering working in sex work. However, the reasons behind this, what I believe
to be a new tendency, have not as yet been fully researched and the case of Juan de
Herrera presents some controversies. This is because there seems to be a continuous
female migration from this village linked closely, even nowadays, with sex work in the
Netherlands, which will be explored in greater depth in the next chapter.

The jobs the female migrants used to have before migrating tended to be low
remunerated and were normally within the informal sector. This employment situation
was linked to the fact that they were not able to gain qualifications in higher education
when they were young due to their early pregnancies, together with the time constraints
of being mothers. For that reason they used to work as domestic workers, including
cleaning, cooking and in some cases taking care of others. These jobs gave them the
possibility of a reasonabley flexible time table, so that they could combine motherhood
with remunerated work. However, these jobs are very low paid in the Dominican
Republic, and this was a push factor to migrate. According to the interviewees, migrants
and their families, the money they earned in this type of employment was not enough to
maintain their households. Once the women migrated they found themselves in jobs
characterised by being natural to women, mainly within the domestic work sector, care
giving and sex work. For example, Nieves works in an elderly residence. Emma has a
job in the garment industry and she also cleans houses. Isabel sells knitted garments
made by herself and she works as a hairdresser when there is a job available. Viviana
and Rosario, who are aunt and niece, seem to be working in the sex industry. It is
remarkable to take into account that the work situation of these migrants indicates that
even though they are now earning more money than in the Dominican Republic, they do
not seem to be able to find the conditions to fully emancipate and gain more equal
gender roles after migration. This seems to be related to the fact that they are doing very
similar jobs, which are believed to be feminised. Thus, whilst one the one hand they are

22
  The Red District Light in Amsterdam is formed by the prostitution areas of De Wallen, Singelgebied
and Ruysdaelkade.

                                                45
able to observe different cultural norms abroad, on the other hand it proves to be
practically impossible to translate these to the country of origin. This is related to the
fact that they still take on the responsibility as a main breadwinner of the household, in
addition to fulfilling the role of a mother at a distance with the responsibilities this
entails.

The most important characteristic for this research that bond these five cases together
and that makes them a homogeneous group, is that the migrants are all mothers,
regardless their age, current or previous job, level of education or place of origin, and
they were all single or divorced mothers when they decided to migrate, having had their
children in the Dominican Republic. Viviana (47 years old) has two sons, Alberto (25
years old) and Manuel (26 years old), who live with Viviana’s mother and have grown
up with her since they were 4 and 5 years old. Rosario (36 years old) has a baby son and
3 teenage daughters. The four children have been under the care of Rosario’s mother
ever since Rosario moved to the Netherlands more than 8 years ago. Nieves (40 years
old) has been in Spain for four years, since then her 17 year old son lives with Nieves’s
sister and her 12 year old daughter lives with Nieves’s ex-partner, Ramiro, under the
care of Ramiro’s wife. Isabel is 40 years old and moved to the Netherlands more than 5
years ago after a few years in San Martin. Her daughter (21 years old) lives on her own,
but when she was younger she used to live with Isabel’s sister. Isabel’s son (14 years
old) is taken care of by Isabel’s sister and niece. Emma, (25 years old) left the
Dominican Republic and her 2 daughters (10 and 12 years old) and son (5 years old),
when she first moved to Lebanon 4 years ago. In 2006 when Israel invaded Lebanon, she
went back to the Dominican Republic for about a year, before moving to the
Netherlands. Meanwhile, in her absence Emma’s children have been taken care of
mainly by Emma’s mother and her sister Jacinta.

From this brief description of my group of respondents, another crucial and identical
feature among the five cases comes to light; the presence of female social kin networks,
which made the migration of these five women possible. The networks mean that they
could migrate in order to send money to support their children, while the sister and/or
mother shared the role of motherhood by taking care of the children in the country of
origin. All of the interviewees said that their children were the main reason that made
them make the decision to migrate, and this is key in the analysis of their migration. Yet,
this should be understood within the context of matrifocality. These women migrants
belong to households of a matrifocal nature, meaning that there is a lack of emotional
and financial responsibilities from fathers and husbands. Women want to provide the
best possible for their children, and they thought that migration was the best option to
fulfil their aims as mothers. Also, it is crucial that in every case the children of the
migrants are taken care of by a female relative in the Dominican Republic, who is
usually the sister or the mother of the migrant. In this context it can be seen why it is
vital to describe the migrants’ family in the Dominican Republic. The relatives who
were involved in the care of the female migrant’s children and some of the children
themselves were interviewed. Nevertheless, observations were made in a broader sense
whilst carrying out the research, and these have also been taken into account.

The first case study is Viviana, her sons, Alberto and Manuel, her mother Eugenia, and
the rest of the family. Eugenia, a widow and who is more than 80 years old, lives in
Santo Domingo in an old house in a poor neighbourhood. Her household consists of
herself and her grandchildren, Alberto and Manuel, along with a domestic worker known
as “la trabajadora”. This is the main household base of the family and there are always

                                           46
other members of the family living there on temporary basis, such as a daughter of
Eugenia who is going through financial problems, other grandchildren and also some
great-grandchildren. The way this household survives financially is mainly through
remittances sent from two of the daughters of Eugenia, Olinda and Viviana, who live in
the Netherlands. There is also some income from sporadic informal work carried out by
Alberto, who as a painter on a temporary basis. Manuel said that he does not like to
work, and thus he mainly lives from what his mother Viviana sends23. In this
transnational household, it is important to mention the role of Olinda, one of Eugenia’s
daughters, in more detail. Olinda was the first to move to the Netherlands and she helped
Viviana to follow her afterwards. Olinda was not taken as one of the main cases for this
study because she does not have children in the Dominican Republic. However, she did
offer a point of contact for her family.

Rosario, the second case studied, is also from this family. Rosario is Olinda and
Viviana’s niece. Once they were established in the Netherlands both helped Rosario to
migrate. When Rosario left the Dominican Republic she left her four children with her
mother Anarita (55 years old). Anarita lives in a poor rented house, close to her mother’s
(Eugenia). Anarita is raising her daughter’s four children and financially she strongly
depends on the remittances her daughter sends. She has also been in Amsterdam,
however she went back to Santo Domingo as, amongst other reasons, she did not like the
work environment for a female migrant. Nevertheless, during the interview she was
reluctant to talk about this subject. In order to get a clear view of these two interrelated
cases studied, I have developed the following simplified family tree:




23
  Through observations, Manuel might be involved in some type of illegal work since he seems to live a
higher economic life than he could afford. However, this is only the researcher’s assumption through
observations and some comments gathered from some other members of the family.

                                                 47
Simplified family tree:


  1st Generation
                                 Male           Eugenia
                                Partner
  2nd Generation




                Olinda                    Viviana                         Anarita


   3rd Generation


                Baby              Manuel        Alberto                   Rosario
              Daughter
             (deceased)
  4th Generation



                                                    2 Children          4 Children

     = woman (not a migrant)

     = woman (migrant)

     = man

     = deceased

     = substitution of names



Third, is the case of Nieves. Within Nieves’s family, her sister Mary (44 years old), son
Juanito (17 years old), daughter Rociela (12 years old), ex-partner Ramiro and Ramiro’s
current wife were interviewed. The main household for this case in the Dominican
Republic is based in Mary’s house (the migrant’s sister). Mary lives in a working class
area of Santiago. The house was bought by Mary and Nieves’s mother (now deceased)
to ensure her children and the next generations would have a “stable roof” over their
heads. Mary takes care of her nephew Juanito and one of her own daughters. Two of
Mary’s brothers also live in this household but on a temporary basis (normally when
they fight with their partners or when they do not have one). Rociela, Nieves’s daughter,
lives with her father Ramiro and his wife in an outer suburb of Santiago. In this case,
when Nieves migrated Ramiro wanted to take care of his daughter, so Rociela moved in
with her father and her father’s wife. Her father’s wife plays a very important role in

                                           48
Rociela’s life, since she has taken on the role of a mother, bringing up Rociela as a
daughter. Rociela also has a very close relationship with her half brother Juanito, and so
she spends some weekends in Mary’s house, which seems to be the main household of
the family.

The fourth case is Emma and her family. Emma’s three children, Jarisa (12 years old),
Maria (11 years old) and Luigi (5 years old) live with Emma’s sister, Jacinta (35 years
old). Jacinta’s household consists of Emma’s three children, her two own children and
her current partner, Domingo, who is Mary’s brother (the third case). They live in a
small flat in a working class neighbourhood in Santiago, neighbours to Mary. Jacinta’s
family is originally from Santo Domingo, but a few years ago she moved to Santiago for
reasons related to work. In Santiago she met her current partner, who sometimes lives in
his family household (Mary’s). This shows once again the importance of social networks
and how the cases studied are connected. Within the case of Emma, there was a second
household interviewed in Santo Domingo, where Emma’s mother, Lucía (65 years old)
lives. This has also been included in this research as she took care of the children whilst
Jacinta was finalizing her studies, as well as Lucia’s household being the base of the
family. At the time of the research Lucia’s household consisted of herself and two of her
grandchildren. In a small house in the backyard Lucia’s son also lived with his recently
wed wife and baby. Lucía does not work any more, due to illness. The way she
maintains her household is thanks to the money given to her by one of her daughters,
who works in a restaurant, and the money Emma sends from the Netherlands. When
Emma migrated for the first time (to Lebanon) the first person who took care of her
children was her brother. However, this was only for a very short period, since she
discovered her children were not well cared for and her brother was spending most of
the money she was sending on drugs. Thus, the children were moved to her mother’s
house (Lucia’s), before they went on to live with her sister (Jacinta). It is interesting to
note in all of the five cases the role played by men, they are present, however in the
majority of the households, men as a husband or partner did not seem to exist; only as
brothers, sons, nephews, cousins… etc.

Finally, the fifth case is Isabel. This case is also related to the case of Emma. Emma and
Isabel met in Amsterdam in Casa Migrante and have since become friends, helping each
other in the struggles of being undocumented migrants in the Netherlands. Isabel’s
relatives in the Dominican Republic who participated in this research were her daughter
Laura (21 years old), who lives in Santo Domingo and lives economically independent
from her mother, sharing a home with a female cousin. Isabel’s son, Oliver (14 years
old) lives in an outside suburb of Santo Domingo with Isabel’s sister, Prima (56 years
old) and Isabel’s niece, Soraya (31 years old). Soraya and Prima are the ones in charge
of taking care of Oliver. Other members of this household are another son of Prima, and
the new born baby of Soraya.

It is also worth noting the life story of other women related to some of the five women
migrants studied, since their participation helped to understand the overall discourse of
female migration from the Dominican Republic and once again draws attention to the
role of social networks. These are Lidia, Serena and Vecina, who are from the
Dominican Republic and currently live in the Amsterdam. Lidia migrated to the
Netherlands almost 20 years ago, through marrying a Dutch man whom she met in the
Dominican Republic. She left her daughter Serena with her sister Lucía (Emma’s
mother). Once her daughter finished her studies in the Dominican Republic and Lidia
was settled in Amsterdam, she brought Serena to Holland via family reunification.

                                            49
Vecina, a neighbour and a good friend of Lidia and Serena, came from the Dominican
Republic during the 80s to visit her sister, who was already living in the Netherlands.
She then decided to marry a Dutch man in order to get her documents to stay in the
country. Once she obtained her residence in The Netherlands she got divorced from her
Dutch husband, and tried to reunify her family (children and Dominican partner).
However, neither her Dominican partner nor her children wanted to come over, and so
they stayed living in the Dominican Republic with Vecina’s mother, who actually
replaced the role of Vecina as a caregiver. These three women are related to the case of
Emma. An interesting fact to note is that when Emma arrived in the Netherlands, she did
not know about these relatives of hers in Amsterdam, until her mother Lucía in the
Dominican Republic started trying to find out about her sister, who she believed had
moved many years ago to Amsterdam and with whom she had lost contact. When Lucía
found them, she facilitated their contacts to her daughter Emma. Since then Emma does
not feel so fragile and alone in Amsterdam, as she knows that she will always have
somewhere to go to eat, sleep, cry or laugh, if she needs it.

This highlights the importance of social networks among migrants and how critical they
are for the process of migration. An example of this is that although Emma has been in
Amsterdam for more than two years, she remains undocumented due to the difficultly of
getting the right papers in the Netherlands. Her friend Isabel (who also forms part of this
research) just arrived from Salamanca, Spain. She went there specifically to get married
and obtain the documents necessary to get a permit to stay in the Netherlands. Upon the
successful arrival of Isabel to Amsterdam, Isabel and Emma met, and Isabel advised
Emma to follow her steps to succeed in obtaining the documents needed to stay in
Europe. Emma is therefore now preparing her trip to Spain. Since Emma is
undocumented she plans to go with her cousin Serena, who holds Dutch residence and
who is therefore able to rent a car, cross borders…etc. This example clearly exposes how
social networks function as tool for the migrants in many different ways, such as helping
to migrate, acquiring documents, friendship and families ties and emotional support.


   I. Migration as a livelihood strategy: “Sometimes migration is everything for
Dominican women”

Currently women are important actors of national and transnational migration, meaning
that they take on the major roles of breadwinners for their households. Female labour
migration has become one important livelihood strategy for a high number of households
in many developing countries, affecting the dynamics of the family. In the particular
case of the Dominican Republic, migration trends are greatly characterised by being
female-led, especially when focusing on the flow to Europe.

I have observed in my research that there are some main aspects that could justify the
female led migration patterns. First, the Dominican Republic is among the majority of
developing countries characterised by a high informal sector, making it difficult for
women and men to enter the formal one. They therefore look for other alternatives to get
income, and transnational migration presents itself as an option. Second, unemployment
is also high among male members of the family, making the overall income of the
household very low. This is further underlined by the high number of households among
the lower class of a matrifocal nature. Men, as fathers and husbands, tend to not provide
for the household, rather spending the money on themselves and pleasures such as
alcohol. Men are men, while women are women, where the women’s role is seen as

                                           50
mothers who care and provide for the family. Generally men are the counted among the
beneficiaries of the caregivers, more than the ones to take on the systematic
responsibilities in the giving of care. The father’s deficiency in caring for and being
involved in the upbringing of the children is not often questioned. The gender rule that
make women responsible for the care of their children is just understood as taken for
granted. Consequently, when the mother migrates and is not able to take the children
with her, the responsibility of the upbringing of the children passes on to other female
members of the family. Furthermore, casual relationships among the low income classes
seem to be the norm. The matrifocal nature of these families has also been helped by
casual relationships; something that seems to occur reasonably often, in where male
identities are constructed through sexual conquests. For that reason, the most durable
family bonds are consanguine, from mothers, to children and grandchildren.

For these reason, women find themselves very often single or divorced mothers in
charge of their children without the right support from their male partners. In this
scenario, female kin social networks and support are crucial for the maintenance of these
households. Men are still considered important in the role of sons and brothers.
However, the responsibility of the upbringing the children of the migrants, passes on to
other female members of the family, and these family networks offer women more
security than a male partner. These factors might have stimulated women in the
Dominican matrifocal system to look for alternatives to cover their roles as breadwinners
in addition to their role as caregivers. As a result of this, many of these single and
divorced mothers have opted for migration as a livelihood strategy.

The five cases studied in this research reflected these ideas. The five women migrants
had the same primary reason to migrate, which was as a livelihood strategy and so for
economic reasons. Their aim is to gain a better financial situation in order to provide a
better life for their children, with enough money to cover basic needs, such as food,
medicines, a place to live and money for schooling. The next quotations from women
migrants illustrate some of the ideas exposed in the argument about migration as a
livelihood strategy for single and divorced mothers, and the fact that women typically
have traditional female roles, such as caregivers, in the place of origin as well as in the
receiving country.

       “I worked as a slave for practically nothing, I did a bit of everything in order
      to be able to continue forward: I cleaned houses, sewed, sometimes helped out
      in a hairdressers…and I still hardly ever managed to reach the end of the
      month. I had to provide food for my children, clothe them, the costs of school,
      the house, etc… I just didn’t have enough!”(Rosario, 36 year old migrant)24

      “I left my country with the idea of being able to give my children the chance of
      a better life.” (Nieves, 40 year old migrant)25

      “…I hope that my children have the things I was never able to have, I don’t
      want them to have to go through what I did …” (Emma, 25 year old, migrant)26




24
   Original in Appendix VII: 1
25
   Original in Appendix VII: 2
26
   Original in Appendix VII: 3

                                           51
      “I left my country to give my children a better standard of living, this is what
      gives me the strength to carry on fighting, otherwise I wouldn’t have minded to
      stay in Santo Domingo […] throughout the years I’ve been abroad I’ve been
      able to feed my children, clothe them and send them to school” (Isabel, 40 year
      old migrant)27

These quotations clearly indicate that together with the idea that these women have
opted to migrate as a livelihood strategy, the most important reason for doing so was
centred on their children. The women could then take on the productive role, covering
the material basis for the children, while given up and passing the reproductive role to
their female kin. Therefore, when the female migrants were asked what the meaning of
their migration is to them and to their families, they claim that it is what they have to do
as mothers, especially since men in their country do not provide for their children. For
the corresponding five households in the Dominican Republic, the migration of their
female kin, whether sister, daughter, niece…etc, is the most adequate strategy as single
mothers, since it enables them to provide for their children, which they could not do
from their place of origin. This indicates that mothers who have migrated do not carry
negative connotations of abandonment of their children, or at least this is the case from
the view from the female members of the family. In contrast however, some of men
related to the migrants, in particular partners or ex-partners, do not fully agree with
female migration. This is more the case for male partners in the case study of Juan de
Herrera, which is developed further on in this study in the next chapter. In addition to
this, the five female cases know that they also have their families’ approval of their
migration. They know that their sisters, their mothers, other close relatives and their
children understand their decision to migrate. It was gathered through the interviews
with family members of the migrants that they clearly understand the decision of
migration. In all cases they argue that the economic situation in the Dominican Republic
is detrimental and is making women, especially mothers, look for other options for
survival. Moreover, the family members of the migrants also see migration as a step
forward for their household, reasoning that having a member out of their country means
progress, as they can count with special help from more developed countries, whether
this is a new source of financial income to be invested in goods that could not be
afforded previously, or knowledge transmitted from other countries, such as cultural
differences in the Netherlands or Spain.

       “The fact that my sister is in Europe, is like and investment for the family, as it
      means that our family is on the up. Whatever happens over here, she can help
      us better from over there, because everyone who goes to another country does
      so to help the family.” (Mary, 44 years old, sister of Nieves – migrant-)28

They also mention that they themselves are considering migrating because they have
seen their female kin doing it, which has raised their expectations of life, wanting to
have more and to learn more from other cultures.
       “…I’d like to go, I see that things are going well for my sister, and that she
      earns her money, has her liberty and independence […] her eldest daughter is
      planning to go over there in the future as well.” (Prima, 56 years old, sister of
      Isabel – migrant -)29

27
   Original in Appendix VII: 4
28
   Original in Appendix VII: 5
29
   Original in Appendix VII: 6

                                            52
However, it is also important to mention the more negative effects of migration on the
migrants’ families. Even though all members of the family who were interviewed fully
support the migration of their female kin, they all claim to suffer from human costs, such
as the physical separation from the migrant. They are sad to know that they cannot visit
them, or celebrate birthdays or other family reunions together. The families also said that
they live with a permanent worry for the migrants, due to the long distances between the
Dominican Republic and Europe. They are concerned that something might happen to
them and that they cannot go over to help them. Besides, in the particular cases of the
women who are taking care of the children of the migrant, and where the children are
younger than teenagers, they state that their responsibilities have grown, accompanied
by an increase in their worries.

          “I felt very insecure due to the responsibility of bringing up her children,
         especially if she was unable to send money” (Luz, 65 years old, mother of
         Emma migrant)30

A particularly interesting point came to light in this study when family members were
interviewed and asked about how the migration of their female kin was affecting them.
This was focussed on the new ideas gained by the female migrant related to the
treatment of women by men. The majority of the five women have experienced different
treatments from men than when they were in the Dominican Republic, such as more
respect and a more equalitarian treatment. In the case of Nieves, she is currently living
with a Dominican man in Spain who has been living in the country for more than 10
years. Nieves told her sister, Mary, that they share household chores and that she is not
physically and psychologically abused. She argued that this is due to the current
European laws for the protection of women. After listening to her sister for many years
over the telephone telling her about this, Mary has decided to keep herself for a man like
that. Now she believes there is no need to tolerate male abuse, she has learned that
abusive male behaviour towards women is not natural. Mary also said that when her
sister is visiting the Dominican Republic, she sees her putting a distance between herself
and Dominican men, since she does not approve the macho Dominican male behaviour.

          “I see my sister as being more distant, she puts more distance between herself
         and the men from here, [...] because there is another culture that has come in
         between, she has learned to not be subordinated to men […] She always tells
         me how different men are in Spain, they are less macho than Dominican men,
         the Spanish man is more respectful to women. This is why I want to marry a
         Spanish man…” (Mary, 44 years old, sister of Nieves – migrant-)31

The question is then whether female migration is changing gender roles in the
Dominican Republic. During the field work research, there were only few respondents
that pinpointed the potential of migration in this sense. However they did believe that the
fact of being a woman, together with the idea of bringing income to their households, is
helping women to become more independent from abusive boyfriends or husbands. On
the contrary, the family also understood the migration of their female kin as another
strategy to fulfil roles as breadwinners that should, to their understanding, normally be
fulfilled by men. Thus, it would be too simplistic to argue that female migration is
bringing changes in gender issues that push towards an equalitarian society. In reality at

30
     Original in Appendix VII: 7
31
     Original in Appendix VII: 8

                                             53
present migration consists of an additional burden for women. The female migrant has to
live in a country far away from her loved ones, while her female relatives have to take
on responsibility for the migrant’s children, as well as suffer emotionally from having a
close relative far away. However, it is important to notice the difference between female
migrants who are already settled and with legal documents of residence in the host
country and those who are undocumented. For those women who are documented in the
host country, the meaning of migration goes further as they can work legally and thus
earn enough money to send to their families, even studying if they want to. Therefore,
they feel that they have become more independent and emancipated than they were in
the Dominican Republic. For those female migrants, such as Emma and Isabel, who are
struggling to get their documents that give them a right to stay in the receiving
country, migration often equates with uncertainty, hard work, apprehension, loneliness
and worries about having enough money to send to their households in the place of
origin. Nevertheless, regardless of their status (documented or not) the migrant women
interviewed agreed that in general terms the objective of migration is very different
between men and women, because husbands and boyfriends do not generally take on the
responsibilities of their children. For that reason they would not normally migrate to
provide for their family, since they generally do not have to provide for them in the first
place. Thus, women are the ones who have to do all the jobs as the breadwinner and
caregiver, consequently being burdened with all the associated responsibilities. Again, it
is therefore women who migrate as a livelihood strategy for the wellbeing of the
children:

       “In fact in my country men aren’t too concerned about their children, women
      are burdened with the responsibility for everything, so it is now us women who
      have to migrate in order to be able to feed our children.” (Isabel, 40 year old,
      migrant)32

      “The women of my country are the ones who go abroad, because the men of my
      country aren’t concerned about their children, the women are the ones who
      have to take on the responsibility for everything.” (Luz, 65 year old, mother of
      Emma –migrant-)33

Clearly, these women decided to migrate as a livelihood strategy for the wellbeing of
their children, and this is the case for almost all the instances of migration. While
migration offers these women the chance to send money back to their households in the
place of origin to improve their living conditions, the female migrants and their families
also face sacrifices. When the migrants were asked about what sacrifices they have had
to bear when migrating, the main answer was unanimous among the five women:
leaving their children in their country of origin. Additionally, the interviewees declare
that if it were not for the fact that they had children, then they would most likely not
have migrated, given that the reasons behind their decision was to provide for their
offspring as best as they could.

      “If I hadn’t had children, I don’t think I would have done it. It’s us mothers
      who are concerned about our children…” (Emma, 25 year old, migrant)34


32
   Original in Appendix VII: 9
33
   Original in Appendix VII: 10
34
   Original in Appendix VII: 11

                                           54
       “…give my children a better standard of living, this is what gives me strength
      to carry on fighting, otherwise I wouldn’t have minded to stay in Santo
      Domingo.” (Isabel, 40 year old, migrant)35

The women interviewed also indicate that the experience of migrating is easier for
women than for men, since a woman migrant holds less dangerous connotations. The
migrant women think that they are seen to be “a poor lonely woman” without a man to
protect them, so society in the host country is more willing to help them than in the case
of migrant men. The women migrants in my research believe that locals in the host
country tend to be more open to women than to men, since a woman is not considered to
be as harmful as a man. However, migrant women, especially with dark skin and/or from
the Dominican Republic, carry a myth of being related to sex work, which can
sometimes lead to other types of complications. The following quotations from
interviews with Dominican women in the Netherlands reflect some of the ideas exposed:

      “I think that being a women means I was helped more, when the immigrants are
      men, people are more afraid of them.” (Lidia, 60 year old, migrant)36

      “I’ve have been offered the job of an escort on numerous occasions, in the
      beginning I didn’t understand anything, until my Dominican (female) friend
      explained everything to me.” (Emma, 25 year old, migrant)37

When the migrants where asked about their future plans, they all aimed to be reunified
with their children who are still in the Dominican Republic. However, through my own
observations and interactions with the families in the Dominican Republic and with the
migrants in the Netherlands, I have concluded that, in particular for those female
migrants involved in the sex sector, the reunification of the family in the host country is
not an option. Women working as sex workers do not aim to bring their children. My
observations and interactions with migrants and families led to note that in some of the
cases studied it has been possible to already bring the children to the receiving country.
This was particularly the case for the migrants who possess legal documents for
residence and have been living in the host country for more than seven years. However,
it was strongly suspected that these migrants worked in the sex sector, and therefore
even though they retained the hope of bringing over their children, they had shut off any
possibility of doing so. In most cases it seemed that the families were uncertain of the
nature of their work in the Netherlands (and certainly the children would have been
unaware). Thus, bringing the children over would also involve making their profession
clear to members of the family and the children themselves.

Alongside with the intentions of bringing their children to the host country, they also
desire and aim to build a house in the Dominican Republic for the sake of the future of
their children, their own sake and also for their mother’s (as a way of saying thank you
for all the hard work the mothers of the migrants have done in first bringing up the
women who migrated, then later bringing up the migrant's children). The construction of
a house in the Dominican Republic is not only an improvement in living conditions, but
also in the particular case of the migrant, a house in the place of origin is a territorial
connection with their roots. Moreover, a house for a migrant has a further important

35
   Original in Appendix VII: 12
36
   Original in Appendix VII: 13
37
   Original in Appendix VII: 14

                                           55
significance: life goes well for a migrant. These migrants want to show that their
migration has been worth it. A house in the Dominican Republic is the story and
ultimate goal of almost every migrant, since this equates to economic stability and
success. They understand the house as the bread and butter in life, since a house is an
investment on a long term basis.

The final aspect of this section is related to the reason the migrant chose the Netherlands
in four of the cases, and Spain in the case of Nieves. The answers given by the migrants
during the interviews reflect the importance of social networks when migrating. Isabel,
Viviana and Rosario had a link with the Netherlands and Nieves with Spain. This meant
that there was someone already in the country who helped them in the first stage of the
migration process. Isabel had her boyfriend in the Netherlands, who she met in her first
migratory movement to San Martin (The Dutch Antilles), while he was also temporarily
working on the island. Viviana and Rosario had a close female relative who was already
in the host country, while Nieves had a female friend in Spain, who found a job contract
for her. These female relatives and friends helped the female migrants to take the first
steps for migration, they lent them money for the flight, arranged a job for them, helped
to find accommodation, and last but certainly not least, they provided emotional
security. These female migrants felt more secure travelling to a new place because they
knew there was someone waiting for them. Thus, the importance of social networks is
immensely significant for the female migrants. In contrast, Emma was the only case who
decided to migrate without knowing anyone or having any contact in the host country.
As a result, she explained how the decision to migrate was one of the most difficult
things in her life. She had to start everything from zero and was completely alone. She
had to trust people she did not know in order to survive and always being aware that
someone might take advantage of her or deceive her. It is clear to see that even though
migrating was difficult for the four migrants who had contacts abroad, it was nothing
like the trauma experienced by the migrant who was alone at her arrival. Therefore, the
procedure of migration for these five women sustains the argument of the importance of
social networks between women to migrate. It was thanks to the social network with
other women that these five female migrants were able to migrate. In the first instance in
four of the cases, the migrant woman had a close female relative or female friend in the
host country. Secondly in all of the five cases, the migrants’ female relatives in the
Dominican Republic play a very important role for supporting the migration procedure.
Thanks to the migrants’ mothers and sisters, the migrants feel more secure to travel in
the knowledge that their children are being taken care of and so are safe. In addition to
this, migrants also feel secure in the sense that they are backed up by their families back
in the Dominican Republic. They know their families approve of their decision to
migrate and that if things become very difficult in the receiving country, they are always
able to go back to their families. Also, in some cases while the migrant is abroad, they
are economically backed up by their relatives. This means that in most cases in both the
receiving and the sending country, in order to migrate the female migrant can count on
the economic, practical and emotional support of other women.

An interesting example to illustrate these social female networks on both sides of the
migration experience is the case of Olinda, her sister Viviana and her niece Rosario. In
the Dominican Republic, Olinda got pregnant from a short relationship and had a
daughter. As part of the normal paperwork procedure she registered the birth of her
daughter with the state. Unfortunately her daughter died when she was still a baby.
Olinda never registered the death of her daughter. Then, looking for a better future she
moved to San Martin during the mid 70s, where she meet an Antillean man who

                                           56
facilitated her Dutch residence/nationality and she made her second migrating movement
                  38
from San Martin to the Netherlands (legally). Once she had settled in Amsterdam, her
younger sister Viviana also wanted to migrate. Olinda, being a legal migrant, asked for a
family reunification with her sister. But, since family reunifications are only valid
among parents and their children, or between couples, Olinda’s sister took the place of
Olinda’s dead daughter (since this death was never registered). That is how Viviana,
Olinda’s sister arrived documented to the Netherlands. Olinda had organised work and
accommodation for Viviana, and also had helped her with the cost of the travel. Years
later, their niece Rosario wanted to migrate. Viviana and Olinda organised everything
they could for her; paper work, accommodation, cost of travelling and most importantly
a legal permit to work, which made the entrance to the Netherlands possible for Rosario.
Additionally, once these three women were settled in the Netherlands, they also helped
Rosario’s mother Anarita (Olinda and Viviana’s sister) to migrate. Anarita later chose to
return to the Dominican Republic. The reasons behind this were mainly that before she
migrated she used to take care of her grandchildren (Rosario’s children), and now these
children were being taken care of by the mother of Olinda, Anarita and Viviana. This
meant that Rosario’s children were with their great grandmother. This situation was
distressing for all of the women, since they knew that this was too much work for an
elderly lady. Moreover, Anarita did not like the work environment in the host country.
So she decided to go back to the Dominican Republic to take care of her grandchildren
and of her mother, while her daughter Rosario could send enough money for the family.

In conclusion, two of the five cases studied arrived in the host country with a tourist visa
(Isabel and Emma). These women are currently struggling to obtain documents that
allow them to stay. Indeed, given the difficulty of “getting papers" in the Netherlands,
Isabel has now gone to Salamanca in Spain, where she believes the situation to be easier
and she also has a female friend who is already settled in the Spanish city. The main
reason that she has decided to go to Salamanca is again a case of social networks, her
female friend in Salamanca is helping her with finding accommodation and a job. This
female migrant now feels more secure to leave Amsterdam and to move to another city,
since there is someone who is already waiting for her. One of the five cases studied
(Viviana) came as a fictitious reunification process, as has been explained before.
Rosario came with a prearranged labour contract and had female relatives waiting for
her in Amsterdam. Finally, Nieves also arrived with a prearranged job contract
organized by her female friend waiting for her in Spain. The main characteristic in these
different procedures is that in all cases they were helped by other women in different
ways in order to carry out the migration procedure. In the majority of the cases, they
were helped at both ends by women, in the receiving and sending country. However, in
all cases they were always helped by their female relatives in their home country, the
Dominican Republic. This means that social networks among women provide economic
and emotional support for the migrant, which makes the migration process possible and
to some extent “easier”.




38
  Nowadays is not as easy as before to use the Netherland Antilleans as a bridge to the Netherlands, due
to the changes in migration law.

                                                   57
II. Transnational Households: “I work in Amsterdam, but my home and heart is in
Santo Domingo”

The households studied in this thesis constitute transnational households. This is based
on the idea of a household that is separated physically, but nevertheless remains united
in a manner that creates well-being and unity for the family members. These households
are an economic unity, in where the case of having a family member working abroad
implies its transnationalism. In this research, the five women interviewed live dual lives;
they are immigrants in the Netherlands and in Spain, working as domestic workers,
hairdressers, cooking for others and in some cases are sex workers as well. But they are
also sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces…etc in the Dominican Republic, and most
importantly they are mothers. Meanwhile, the family relatives in the Dominican
Republic miss the migrants, worry about them, feeling the insecurity of their situation,
taking on some of their responsibilities, such as the upbringing of their children. When
the five migrants were asked where their home is, they all said: “in the Dominican
Republic”, also adding that their hearts are also in the Dominican Republic with their
families. Thus, these migrants, together with millions more over the world, have created
the transnational household. These are households that do not have physical borders or
limitations, and where migrants, family and friends maintain relationships in a way that
link together the country of origin and the host country. In this transnational space,
interaction between members of the family takes place; emotional and practical support
is given, social and economic remittances are sent from A to B and from B to A, new
role models of being a mother, daughter, grandmother, sister…etc are created. The most
important tool to maintain this relationship and create this new space for the family to
interact is communication, normally by means of a telephone. This communication
enables migrants and their family to be aware of what is happening at both ends of the
transnational household. In the five cases for this study, the five female migrants talked
about their families in a way that shows that they know what is happening with their
relatives in the Dominican Republic, even small details or events. The same is true in the
reverse case, where the family members are up to date on the goings on in the migrant’s
life. All of this portrays the idea of a transnational household. In all of the cases studied,
the telephone is used as the most important tool to maintain a close relationship between
those in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands and Spain. These five women
phone their family on a daily basis, sometimes more than once, they are updated in
almost everything that is happening back in their place of origin; they know if someone
is sick, if someone needs something, if there is a celebration of someone’s birthday,
which people went to that birthday, what their children ate, if their children did their
homework….etc. In particular, this communication is greater when there are children
involved.

       “I speak on a daily basis with my mother, and with my children, sometimes I
      even call them twice per day…!”(Rosario, 36 year old, migrant)39

It is interesting to mention that, like in any other household, some of the relationships
among members of the family are closer than others. In the cases approached in this
study, the strongest links are related to where their children are. For example, Jacinta is
                                                                        40
taking care of Emma’s three children, and in this case, Emma phones once or twice per

39
  Original in Appendix VII: 15
40
  The female migrants tend to be the one who phones (as they all, migrants and relatives, have argued on
this, it is because of an economic issue).

                                                  58
day to talk to her sister and to her children. Emma wants to know what they have been
doing during the day, how was school…etc. But Emma also needs her sister Jacinta to
talk to her about her new life in Amsterdam. Furthermore, not only Emma’s sister and
children are in her list of phone calls, but also her mother. However, she does not phone
her mother everyday. Emma wants to know how her mother is doing, and she also wants
to tell her what she is doing in the Netherlands, and as a daughter she always needs
mum’s advice. Nevertheless, if she does not have enough money to phone her sister and
her children and her mother, she argued that she would phone her sister, since she is the
one taking care of her children. Another example of this close relationship is when
during my fieldwork I was invited to spend a weekend at the beach with Jacinta, her
partner and the children (Emma’s and those of Jacinta). I counted at least five times that
I could see that Emma phoned her sister or her oldest daughter on her mobile over 48
hours. Spending a weekend at the beach was an extraordinary activity, therefore Emma,
in Amsterdam, wanted to know how the weekend was going, reminding her sister about
sun cream protection for the children, about the fear of her youngest son of water….etc.
Finally she also phoned once we were back in Jacinta’s home, to make sure that the car
ride coming back had been safe. This example clarifies the idea of being a mother when
far away and reflects what motherhood at a distance is. In this situation Emma has
migrated to the Netherlands to try to provide the best for her children. This means
that during her time in the Netherlands Emma’s mind and heart are with her children. In
an effort to be close to them she uses the telephone on a daily basis. All of this indicates
that transnational households do not create new relationships, but thanks to the telephone
help to maintain the old ones between the migrants and their relatives.

         - Transnational Motherhood

A crucial point of this investigation is that since the five migrants of the cases studied
are mothers with children in the Dominican Republic, and since the five mother migrants
speak of motherhood as their main social role, this it makes indispensable to examine the
development of being a mother at a distance, known in academia as transnational
motherhood. The first thing to bear in mind is that the main reason these women
migrated was because, as has been explained before, they wanted to offer their children a
better economic future. Nevertheless this means that if they migrate, their children are
not under their care. Therefore, in order to carry out a productive material role, they
passed their reproductive one on to other female kin in their family. For that reason the
crucial position of the grandmother and sisters comes to light, together the pivotal
significance of social networks among female relatives. These five women have to face
the ambiguities of the migration experience. They migrate, looking for a job that enables
them to provide the best they can for their children. At the same time they have to face
the reality of being physically separated from their most loved ones. They argued that
the best way to deal with this physical separation is daily communication with them by
telephone. Therefore, phone calls from the Netherlands and Spain to the Dominican
Republic (from migrants to their families) are a vital daily habit for the migrants in order
for them to fulfil their role as a mother. It is also worth mentioning that a cost of about
ten Euros per day has to be accounted for to pay for the telephone calls. Since the
majority of the these five families are not familiarised with high technology tools to
communicate, such as Skype, the female migrant (who normally initiates the phone call)
uses telephone cards that she buys from souvenirs shops, tobacco shops and
supermarkets. Ten Euros per day sums up to over 300 Euros per month. But the female
migrants argued that this money is understood as a part of the cost of being a migrant,
given that it is the moment of the day to be with their families. Moreover, for those

                                            59
women of my research that are undocumented, the cost of being connected to their
families tends to be higher. This is because undocumented women do not have access to
mobile phones with a contract or to a landline, given that they would need to show their
passport, a permanent legal address...etc. Therefore, for those who are undocumented the
cost of maintaining alive the space of their transnational household is higher than for
those women who can chose between telephone cards, a landline and a mobile phone
contract with special offers to call overseas. This implies a vicious circle of difficulty for
non documented women, since their living costs are often higher, they have less or no
access to social benefits, health insurance…and of course, due to their undocumented
status, they have less work opportunities, the ones they do have being low paid and
poorly protected. For these female migrants the maintenance of the position as a mother
is carried out thanks to the telephone. When the migrants were asked about how they
carry out the role of a mother, they all stipulated the importance of phoning their
children on a regular basis; they are mothers by phone. But the children also call the
mothers when they are going to do something for which they have to ask for permission.
Juanito (17 years old) phones his mother if he wants to go out with friends or to a
concert for example.

       “If I want to go out dancing or hang out with my friends, like a concert at
      night, I’ve got to phone her to ask for permission. Although my father is here
      and he gives me permission, for me the person who really has the authority is
      my mother. First she asks me who I’m going with, which friends they are. And if
      she lets me go, the next day she always phones to ask me how it all was.”
      (Juanito, 17 years old, son of Nieves – migrant-)41

The quotation above clearly indicates that in this case the role of the mother remains, but
now in a transnational way. Other forms that some of these mothers have opted to take
in order to maintain their mother status is to explain to the children how the new life in
the Netherlands and Spain is, consequently they hope their children will feel close to
their mother’s reality. In addition to this, mothers remind and clarify their children why
they migrated in the first place, in order to let them know that it was not abandonment
and on the contrary is for their wellbeing. Isabel, who is 40 years old and is a Dominican
migrant in the Netherlands, answered the following when she was asked how she deals
being a mother at a distance:

       “Having your heart break with sadness, putting on a brave, strong voice when
      speaking on the phone, telling them off if necessary and explaining everything
      and anything if needed.”(Isabel, 40 year old, migrant)42

In addition, Nieves and Emma said:

      “I speak with them and I explain what life is like out here, that when they come
      over they’ll see other ways of living […] the telephone is very important for me,
      in order to be able to maintain a relationship with them.”(Nieves, 40 year old
      migrant)43




41
   Original in Appendix VII: 16
42
   Original in Appendix VII: 17
43
   Original in Appendix VII: 18

                                             60
         “My sister and my mother are bringing up my children, I’m at ease because it’s
         them, and they brought me up well…and I’m also around…when I speak with
         them by phone…and I tell them off if it’s necessary, so that they don’t lose their
         respect towards me as their mother.”(Emma, 25 year old migrant)44

The migrants also remind themselves that they are doing the best for their children.
Their families’ support is also crucial, not only on a practical basis (such as taking care
of the migrants’ children), but also due to the fact that they approved and understand the
decision of the female migrant to migrate. The female migrant therefore feels
encouraged to stick to their decision to migrate.

         “When I was going to leave Santo Domingo my sister said to me: “it’s really
         hard to get by in the Dominican Republic…a single mother and feeding your
         children.” (Isabel, 40 year old migrant)45

Furthermore, the children of these migrants have grown up in an environment that
migration is natural and understandable. The way the children understand the migration
of their mothers appears to be strongly linked to the idea of the mother phoning, and
therefore keeping in constant contact. In the majority of these five households the
children understand that their mother has migrated to another country to work and thus
for their wellbeing. However the younger children seem to be rather confused with the
role of who is mother. This was the case of Luigi (5 years old) who has lived with his
two sisters and his aunt Jacinta for 2 years. Even though he knows that Jacinta is not his
mother, he treats her as if she were. When his real mother, Emma comes to visit them he
feels very confused. He sees Emma as the person who brings toys and nice shoes, while
Jacinta is the person who tells him off and who he respects as a mother. On the other end
of the spectrum, the oldest children in this research were Alberto and Manuel (25 and 26
years old respectively). They feel injustice in regard to their mother’s migration, and
they explained this to be because their mother Viviana did not phone very often, since
the telephone cost was very high at the time, nor go to Dominican Republic during the
first seven years of her migration. They therefore think their mother forgot them when
they were children, and this resentment remains up to the present. This last example
further illustrates the importance of the telephone for maintaining relationships and
creating a transnational household. Nowadays, these female migrants carry out their
motherhood roles by sending money to buy their oldest children a mobile phone and to
cover the monthly cost of the contract. In this manner they can be in direct contact with
them if necessary. A case study of this phenomenon is the daughter of Nieves, Rociela
(12 years old), who lives in the Dominican Republic. Contrary to the norm, Rociela lives
in the house of her father. However, the person who takes care of her is the wife of her
father. Rociela was recently given a mobile phone a few months previous to the
research. Nieves explains that the reason for this is to be able to call her daughter at any
moment and have privacy in the conversation. In this way, Nieves thinks that by having
her own mobile phone her daughter will be able to tell her if something is going wrong
or if she is being maltreated. Not only this, but now Rociela and Nieves feel closer, as
they can call each other whenever they want without anyone interfering with them.
While Nieves thinks that this is helping their mother – daughter relationship to remain
close, Ramona (the wife of Rociela’s father) is of another opinion. She argues that the
best for the child would also be to include her, given that she is the one carrying out the

44
     Original in Appendix VII: 19
45
     Original in Appendix VII: 20

                                               61
practical roles of a mother. It can be seen how the mobile phone is therefore creating a
difficult and conflictive situation among the adults in charge of Rociela.

A distinctive characteristic of Dominican migrants in the Netherlands is that they rarely
use the strategy of bringing over their mothers (together with the children) in order to
take care of the children. A number of the migrants interviewed explained that this is
because they do not come from a nuclear family model, and the grandmothers are
responsible for other members of the family in the place of origin. The case of Emma’s
mother, Luz, illustrates this. As previously explained, Emma’s children are periodically
taken care of by their grandmother Luz, and in other periods by their aunt Jacinta.
Currently, Lucía has her youngest son, his wife and son, two further granddaughters and
in certain periods of the year the three children of Emma in her house. Emma cannot use
the strategy of bringing her mother and children to the Netherlands, because Lucía has
other people that depend on her care.

The important role carried out by female relatives in the Dominican Republic in taking
care of the children of the migrant is clear. The matrifocal nature of these households is
based on and supported by female social networks, which present a strategy of survival.
It is also crucial to analyse how the migration of the daughters, sisters, aunts…etc of the
female relatives affect those who stay behind. One of the most telling points during the
interviews with the families is the difference between those women who were taking
care of children under 12 years old, compared to the ones who were in charge of
teenagers. This leads to different impacts of their lives. Those who are in charge of the
upbringing of small children claim to feel more responsibilities, stress and worries in
regard to the children. For example, Jacinta, who is taking care of Emma’s three children
(12, 11 and 5 years old), claims to have more stress in her life now that she is with the
children since she is constantly thinking about their wellbeing. She also feels more tied
down, due to the increase of responsibilities. Moreover, she is constantly afraid that
something might happen with the children, explaining that aunts are not always aware of
things in the way that a mother is. Other households however argued that the caring of
the children did not explicitly imply a greater increase in responsibilities, either because
there were other children in the house and one more did not make a big difference, or
because the children/child was a teenager. This for instance was the case with Mary,
who is responsible for Juanito (17 years old). She claims that she does not feel an
increase of her responsibilities with Juanito, first of all because he is almost an adult, and
also because Mary has more relatives in the house and so one extra did not make any
noticeable changes.


     III. Remittances: “Money earned over there is worth more over here!”

The majority of studies on Dominican migration focus their attention to the large amount
of Dominican migrants sending remittances back to their households. These are said to
play an important role in the Dominican economy, since there is a high number of
households that benefit from them. One of the most significant characteristics in the
Dominican case is that the amount sent by migrants is proportionally the highest
compared to other countries of the Caribbean and Central America. Furthermore,
remittances to the Dominican Republic from Europe are higher when compared to
remittances from the United States. According to García and Paiewonsky (2006) the fact
that remittances from Europe are higher on average than those sent from the United
States correspond with the predominance of Dominican women in the migration process

                                             62
between the Dominican Republic and Europe. The entire group of respondents of female
Dominican women in this study stated that they send money back to their households in
the place of origin. Therefore, in all the cases studied these remittances are pivotal for
the relation of the migrant with their relatives in the Dominican Republic. In these cases
the economic remittances consist mainly of a flow of money and goods from one woman
to another. The reasons for sending the money from woman to woman, is because they
do not trust to send the money to men, and because it is women who take on the
responsibilities of bringing up the migrant’s children. Therefore the administration of
these remittances is also carried out by the female relatives in the Dominican Republic,
due to the bond of trust that exists between them and the migrant. In addition to this
pattern of remittances from the female migrants to their families in the Dominican
Republic, it is worth noting the economic support from the Dominican Republic from
the female migrant relatives to the migrant abroad, albeit that this occurs much more
rarely. For example, Laura (21 years old) is the daughter of the female migrant Isabel.
Laura has a full time job in Santo Domingo, and pays and supports her brother when her
mother cannot send the money for him. In the case of Emma, she has an outstanding
bank loan in the Dominican Republic and if there is a difficult month where she cannot
pay the instalments, her sister Jacinta pays it into the bank for her.

In regard to the amount sent, in these five cases studied this is in is relation to the salary
earned. It is vital to remember that these women migrants are generally working in
relatively low paid jobs46. This research has found that these four women in the
Netherlands and the one in Spain send as much as they can, keeping only the bare
minimum necessary to survive in the host country. In addition to this, it is interesting to
note that the longer the Dominican women migrants are established in the Netherlands
or Spain, the more they earn. In this sense, the difference among the women migrants
who do or do not have a legal status is also of importance. Normally, those who have
been in the host country a short period of time are as yet undocumented, therefore they
are involved in even lower paid jobs. The female migrants who have the right legal
documents to work have more options to choose from, and thus more chances to earn
more money. Remittances are tied to the fact that these women have migrated in order to
fulfil their roles as breadwinners and mothers of their households. As some of the
migrants and female family members pointed out, women are prepared to make greater
sacrifices than Dominican male migrants. They take on low paid jobs if that is the only
thing available. In other interviews with family members of migrants who do not take
care of the migrant’s children, the amount they received is much lower. For example
Rosario (migrant) sends a higher amount of money to her mother, who is taking care of
Rosario’s three children. The money she sends is mainly to cover her children’s food,
clothing, school and medicines. However, if there is something left Anarita, Rosario’s
mother, can use it as she thinks best. Rosario also sends money to other members of her
family. She sends some money to her grandmother, because she needs medicines, and
she also sends some to her little brother who wants to study at university and needs the
money for the monthly fees. However, the amount of money she sends to her mother is
much greater compared to that which she sends to her grandmother and brother. This
shows how remittances sent by one migrant are spread between different members of the

46
  Among the five cases studied, it is assumed that one or two of the female migrants are working in the
sex trade. Therefore, it is uncertain if the total amount of money actually sent was said in the interview,
due to modesty and a reluctance to talk about their employment (women working in the sex sector tend to
earn more than those working in other, lower paid jobs). However, the topic of remittances and the sex
sector is more developed in the chapter that deals with research carried out in Juan de Herrera, where sex
work is more visible than in the five case studies.

                                                   63
family in the place of origin. In addition to this example, the case of Nieves and Emma
illustrates the differences of being established and documented or not. Nieves has been
established now in Spain for four years, with a stable job with a salary of 1000 Euros per
month; the amount of money she sends to the Dominican Republic for her son and
daughters is around 300 Euros per month (30% of her income). She uses the rest of
money to pay her rent, food, bills and other living costs. Emma, who arrived in the
Netherlands approximately two years ago, currently is undocumented and her salary
depends on how many houses she cleans per month. Ideally she would like to send about
100 Euros every week, but this varies greatly as she earns money on a sporadic basis.
The money she keeps for herself does not allow her to live at the same level as Nieves.
The following quotation shows some of these points:

      “I send almost half of what I earn here, I send it around every 15 days, when
      my mother took care of my children I sent it to her. Now that my mother has
      fallen somewhat ill, the children are with my sister, so I send the money to her.
      They are always the ones who administer the money, I only tell them, from the
      money I send every month, that they put aside a little each time to pay my bank
      loan.” (Emma, 25 year old migrant)47

The frequencies at which remittances are sent in my sample have two different
tendencies. This seems to be again related to the legal status of the migrant and
corresponds to the opportunities of work and stability of a monthly salary. Among the
five women of the cases studied, two are undocumented, which means that they have an
irregular income, and they send money to their families as soon as they have managed to
accumulate what, for them, is a decent amount (which starts from fifty Euros onwards).
However, those women who are legal in the host country send a set amount of money on
a monthly basis. This is because they have a job in which they are paid a monthly
salary48. There are also some cases in which remittances are sent sporadically for
emergency situations, to cover additional costs or for unexpected expenses. Normally,
these expenses are closely related to health costs. The following quotations illustrate
this:

      “..I send money every month, every time I get paid I send money to my family, I
      send it to my mother, and she administers it.”(Rosario, 36 year old migrant)49

      “…I have some cousins in Santo Domingo, who despite the fact. that we don’t
      maintain regular contact, they can always count on me if they get ill […] One of
      them had to have an operation on their hand a month ago, and given that she
      didn’t dare to go to hospital, she asked me for some pesos to go to a private
      consultancy and I sent it immediately…that’s what family is for…furthermore
      they took care of me for a time when I was a young girl and my mother was here
      (in Amsterdam)” (Sisi, 30 year old migrant)50

       “Now my sister has told me that the have thrown my youngest son out of
      school, so I’ve had to send some extra money to register him in another school,

47
   Original in Appendix VII: 21
48
   In the case/cases I have assumed that the women migrants who are working as a sex worker, pretend to
make their families believed that the money they earn is in monthly basis, even though that through my
assumption is that it is more likely that their earnings are more on a daily basis.
49
   Original in Appendix VII: 22
50
   Original in Appendix VII: 23

                                                  64
      which is further away from where they live…and moreover the bus journey will
      have to be paid for…”(Emma, 25 year old migrant)51

In this study it was found that in some cases the women migrants are of the opinion that
their families think that living and getting money in the Netherlands is easier that it
actually is. This is particularly the case for those who are not regular migrants with a
legal status:

      “They think that the life over here is much easier and that money grows on the
      trees, but this isn’t the case. Especially if you are here illegally like me, where
      you have to do the impossible in order to send the monthly money for the
      children.”(Emma, 25 year old migrant)52

At the beginning of the migration wave between the Dominican Republic and the
Netherlands the most popular way to send money was in an informal manner. This was
made possible thanks to transnational social networks. There was always someone
travelling from/to the Dominican Republic and from/to the Netherlands, and who could
undertake the transfer of remittances in an informal way. In the mid 1990s channels
began to become formal through money transfer agencies, which offered security in
regard to the money sent. Western Union53 was one of the first of such agencies.
According to the five cases of my study, Western Union (called Vimenca in the
Dominican Republic) and Caribbean Express are the most used. The reasons indicated
by those interviewed (migrants and relatives) for choosing formal money transfer
agencies over informal remittances are: commodity, speed and security. The cost for
money transfer by these formal agencies can be in the range of 10 to 30 Euros.

In the households researched in this study, the female relatives are the ones who receive
the money sent by the female migrant. The exception is the case of Juanito, who receives
the money directly from his mother. The reason for this is as Nieves, the mother and
migrant, explained is that he is already 18 years old. Thus, Nieves trusts her son to
receive the money, since he is now an adult. Nevertheless, Juanito gives part of the
money his mother sends him to his aunt with whom he lives. Mary is the one who
administrates this money for some of the general costs of living expenses. The money
Juanito keeps is used to pay internet, school costs, his clothes and his mobile phone. In
the rest of the cases, women are the ones who always receive the money sent. These
consist of the female relatives of the migrants, who are taking care of the migrant’s
children. The reason for sending the money to other women is that the households are
based on a matrifocal system, meaning that husbands or male partners tend to not live
there for permanent periods. However, male relatives do tend to benefit via a trickle
down effect from the remittances. For example in the case of Emma, although she sends
the money to her sister Jacinta, Jacinta’s partner Domingo also benefits from it. Emma
sends the money for the purpose of the upbringing of her children and Jacinta is the one
who takes on this role. However, when Jacinta goes shopping it is for the whole family
and she uses part of the money Emma sends. Domingo is most of the time unemployed,
meaning he is also fed by the money Emma sends, even though he has little to do with
the upbringing of her children. This is a further illustration of gender inequalities in the
Dominican Republic. In some cases in the past men have taken care of the children of

51
   Original in Appendix VII: 24
52
   Original in Appendix VII: 25
53
   Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery, IV) Western Union in Santo Domingo.

                                                 65
the migrants, but the money sent was generally spent on banal goods. For example,
when Emma moved to the Netherlands and left their children with her mother, her ex
husband who had heard that Emma was in the Netherlands, went to Emma’s mother’s
house and took their common son in order to claim money from Emma. Not only did
Emma have problems with her ex husband, but also with her brother. The following
quotations exemplify this:

         “When my ex-husband found out that I was in Holland, he took the kid (the son
         they had in together) from my mother, so I had to begin sending him money to
         bring up our child, but later my sisters told me that he went round all day
         drinking with the money I sent and that he was feeding the kid on water with
         sugar…There were some months that I had to leave the kids with my brother
         […] things didn’t work out so well, he spent all the money I sent on drugs and
         my sisters had to take food to the children.”(Emma, 25 year old migrant)54

These quotations clearly show that in this case, when the men did not administer the
money in the way the woman migrant stated correctly, the remittances sent were the
cause of conflicting situations. Emma has stopped trusting men to administer the money
for her children. However, not just in this case but also in general terms it was clear from
the research that the migrants in my study prefer to send the money to their mother or
sisters, since they presume their female relatives put the remittances to good use. In
regard to how remittances are used, this is the result of an agreement between the female
migrant and the women who receives the money. The fact that the migrant decides to
send the money to her sister or mother, indicates that they also trust the way the money
is administered and used by the female relatives. For example, Rosario sends her mother
money on a monthly basis, but she does not tell her mother how the money needs to be
spent, since she is sure that her mother Anarita is feeding her children and covering all
their needs. Moreover, in this case if there is some money left, Anarita saves it in order
to buy a house in the future. Thus, the relationship created through remittances is very
closely related to the children. The money is sent to the person who takes care of the
children, who is in every case a female relative (sister or mother).

Regarding the way remittances are spent, both the women migrants and the relatives
who receive the money concur that it is essentially spent on basic needs. In particular,
the money is used to cover the primary needs for the children: food, schooling, clothes
and medicine. Although public healthcare in the Dominican Republic provides some free
services, these tend to be of a very poor quality. Therefore, remittances also play a major
role in covering the expenses of healthcare and medicines in the private sector. This time
it is not only for the children of the migrant, but also for an extensive number of
members of the family. This means that the remittances further extend and support the
social networks based on kinship. In regard to education, the children of the migrants
can look forward to being able to enrol on university studies, instead of entering the
labour market after secondary schooling. The female migrants see their children’s
education as an investment strategy. For example, Juanito is about to finish high school,
and is looking towards applying for university. His mother Nieves reminds him that
from the money she sends him on a monthly basis, he has to put some aside for the years
at university. Nieves hopes that Juanito will get a good degree and will be able to join
her in Spain, getting a good job. Yet, it is important again to make a distinction between
the documented and non documented women, since the frequency and amount of money

54
     Original in Appendix VII: 26

                                             66
they send tends to be different. As a result of this, in the case of non documented
migrants, the recipient household uses this money mainly for basic needs. This contrasts
to those migrants who have been settled for longer, have a more stable job in the host
country and who are able to send larger amounts of money on a regular basis. For the
recipient households in these cases the money they receive is almost like a monthly
wage, which means that they are able to plan and that is more possible to save
something. There are also some households that depend entirely on the money they
receive from remittances. An example of this is the case of Luz, whose income consists
of the remittances she receives from two of her daughters. Currently she is taking care of
three grandchildren from two of her daughters. One of the daughters is in Panama, and
the other one is Emma, in the Netherlands. Another example is Anarita. The money her
daughter sends is treated like a wage, since Anarita does not have a remunerated job, but
she is taking care of her daughter’s four children full time.

          “I depend on the money my daughter sends even to by bread. The most
         important are the costs related to the children […] if something is left over at
         the end of the month, I try to save it in order to buy a house…for the
         family.”(Anarita, 55 year old mother of woman migrant, taking care of the
         migrant’s children)55

In addition to this, there are some cases in which the female migrant has sent money for
a particular event or situation, such as a birthday or funeral. Remittances have also been
sent to help another member of the family to migrate. An example of this is the case of
Rosario. Her two aunts had emigrated to the Netherlands, and when Rosario decided to
migrate as well, her aunts helped her economically. They sent her money in order to buy
the tickets and also for the expenses of organising papers and visa. Thus, it is clear to see
that remittances play an important role in supporting social networks and vice-versa.
There are also cases where remittances, together with a salary from a member of the
receiving household, have helped for some home improvements. For example this is the
case of Jacinta:

         “Between what I earn here and what my sister sends for the children, I’ve been
         able to save up enough to buy a washing machine…which saves me a lot of work
         with the four children…” (Jacinta, 35 year old sister of Emma -a female migrant,
         taking care of the migrant’s children)56

There is a further interesting point found in all the interviews with female migrants,
which is that all the women interviewed have saved enough money to buy an airplane
ticket, in case they have to go back to the Dominican Republic (if a relative falls ill, if
they have a problem in the Netherlands… and any emergency situation in general).
Lastly, it is worth noting the remittances that occasionally occur from the Dominican
Republic to the female migrants in the Netherlands. Although this is not the norm, there
are some cases when it occurs either directly or indirectly. In the case of Emma, her
family sent her a large amount of money when she was in jail (for trying to smuggle into
France) in order to help her to be released. In the case of Isabel, the first months she
moved to the Netherlands, she found it difficult to send money to her sister who takes
care of her youngest son. She therefore asked her eldest daughter Laura (who has a full


55
     Original in Appendix VII: 27
56
     Original in Appendix VII: 28

                                              67
time job in the Dominican Republic) to give them some money for the months while she
was looking for a job.

         “My mother knows that I am working full time over here, so when she didn’t
         have any money to send to my little brother, I went to my aunt’s house (where
         my little brother lives) and I gave her a part of my income for the upbringing of
         the boy…I try to help my mother when I am able…I also try to help her with the
         paperwork that she needs to do and suchlike…” (Laura, eldest daughter of
         Isabel, a migrant)57

Finally above and beyond the improvements in the standards of living of the households
receiving remittances, there are also some other positive and sometimes negative effects.
The families in the Dominican Republic, for example the households visited during the
research, not only receive money from their female migrants, but also goods from the
Netherlands and Spain The effect of this can be questionable however. For example, in
the case of Emma, she sent a package to her children with expensive trainers, sandals
and underwear. Once the package was given to her children in the Dominican Republic,
Jacinta (Emma’s sister and the person in charge of the children) was very
disappointed. She knew how much Emma had spent on the presents, but she also knew
that the content of the packet was not the priority need of the children. She could have
used the money her sister had spent on those sport shoes on food and notebooks that the
kids needed for the new semester. But, what does this mean? Emma explained that she
wanted to give her children the best, give them what she could not have when she was a
child. This consumption should not be understood as negative or conspicuous. The fact
that the migrant mother bought expensive shoes for her children, is most likely related to
her wishing to compensate for her physical absence. In particular young children would
appreciate these shoes more than the plate of daily plate of food in front of them, which
is taken for granted. But on the other hand, the person who takes care of the children
disagreed, since she struggles on a daily basis to simply fill the plates with food. This is
a very clear case, albeit rare, of a confrontation – although not direct – between the
migrant, who is the mother, and the woman who takes care of her children.




57
     Original in Appendix VII: 29

                                              68
VI. Female Migration from Juan de Herrera to The Netherlands

                         “Without them, I wouldn’t have gone”

        “Juan de Herrera is known as the “Dutch Colony”, where we call the women
       the travellers, because they go to work in Holland and they send money to build
       a house over here.” (A local old man from Juan de Herrera)58

 Juan de Herrera is a village in the Dominican Republic located north of the town of San
 Juan de la Maguana59. The origins of this village date back to the arrival of the Spanish
 colonists around the 1700s. Currently this municipality comprises approximately
 18,000 inhabitants, of whom almost three quarters live in rural areas. According to the
 council, the main source of income is believed to be from agriculture and from other
 businesses related to the processing and selling of rice and corn. Migration was neither
 highlighted nor mentioned by official sources. However, it was a main topic for all the
 locals who were interviewed as well as in informal conversations. The locals explained
 that since the 1970s women from Juan de Herrera travelled to Europe and thus they
 have gained the name “las viajeras” (the travellers). For more than three decades Juan
 de Herrera has been economically characterised by high rates of unemployment among
 adult women and men. This is believed to be due to the introduction of machinery in
 agriculture, together with the farming crisis that struck the nation in the 1980s and poor
 institutional support for agricultural activities. Working opportunities were reduced to a
 minimum, creating a domino effect on other related local services. With this economic
 situation migration has since probably become one of the main livelihood strategies of
 the area. This migration can either be internal, meaning flows to San Juan de la
 Maguana or Santo Domingo for example, or it can take the form of transnational
 migration, which is the most popular and common form of migration for this
 municipality60. This migration flow is characterised by being mainly female led and
 mainly to the Netherlands, which is why Juan de Herrera has gained the nickname of La
 Colonia Holandesa (The Dutch Colony)61. It was not possible during the fieldwork
 research to find out a tangible reason for the Netherlands originally being chosen in the
 first place. Nevertheless, as explained further in this chapter, social networks have
 played a crucial role in maintaining this trend of female migration from Juan de Herrera
 to the Netherlands. Another particularity of this female led migration is that it seems to
 be closely related to sex work in the Netherlands. The women migrants tend to be single
 or divorced mothers, who mainly migrate for the wellbeing of their children. They
 know the options of work they will have in the Netherlands through the social networks
 in Juan de Herrera. Therefore this migration related to sex work is not sex trafficking,
 since the women have made a decision to take the option of sex work in the host
 country, as opposed to being physically forced into it by a sex trade mafia.

 This chapter draws attention to the results gathered from the interviews, informal
 conversations and general observations during the fieldwork research in Juan de
 Herrera. Additional information was later gained through working as a volunteer in
 Casa Migrante (Amsterdam) in the MEP project. This project involves daily contact
 with Latin American sex workers in Amsterdam. Women migrants from the Dominican
 58
    Original in Appendix VII: 30
 59
    Please refer to Appendix IV: Map of the Dominican Republic
 60
    Please refer to Appendix III: Map of Juan de Herrera with household migration
 61
    Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery, VII) Dutch influences in Juan de Herrera.

                                                    69
Republic make up the highest proportion of sex workers from Latin America, and
interestingly many of these workers are indeed from Juan de Herrera. Some of the main
findings from this part of the research are similar to, and further reinforced by, the
findings for the five cases studied earlier. Therefore, in this chapter the common
findings will not be explained extensively. Rather, attention will be drawn to those
findings related to migration linked to sex work, as well as the further development of
the concept of the role of social networks.

The intention of this part of the investigation has been mainly to learn more from the
place of origin about female migration to the Netherlands. I chose to include Juan de
Herrera in my fieldwork research, even though it was only possible to stay there for a
few weeks. The reason for this was because, once I was in the Dominican Republic,
local informants in Santo Domingo pointed out the relevance and characteristics of this
small village, called The Dutch Colony, in relation to my research. For the purpose of
this research it was very interesting to focus on a relatively small place. First, the
investigation added additional background information to the five cases studied.
Second, the close migratory relation between Juan de Herrera and the Netherlands, and
the particular characteristics of this village of female led migration, is very relevant for
this research. Third, the fact that Juan de Herrera is not a large village, made it easier to
carry out observations than in a big city. This allowed further insights into how the web
of social networks for female migration functions. As a result of all of this, one of the
main outcomes of this research shows how sex work is related to migration, becoming a
livelihood strategy among households sustained by social networks made up of female
kin. In these households women are both the care givers and breadwinners. Moreover, it
was once again understood that this migration movement is caused by a poor economic
situation in the place of origin. The aim of migration is to gain financial improvement in
the life of the migrants themselves and for their households in the place of origin,
mainly to give their children better opportunities. There are a high number of houses
built in Juan de Herrera through money from remittances62. This is related to the status
that is attached to building a house there. Another point that came to light during the
research has been the changes in gender norms. The migrants sometimes earn a double
reputation, where on the one hand they are blamed for leaving their children “behind”,
and on the other hand they are appreciated due to the wealth they send over. The male
perspective on female migration is also highlighted in this chapter, as well as the silence
about the fact that the majority of remittances comes from money earned through sex
work in the Netherlands.

The interviews in Juan de Herrera were with members of households that have a female
migrant in the Netherlands. There were also interviews with female migrants who had
returned. Furthermore, some informal and open interviews were carried out with
children whose mothers are in the Netherlands. Informal conversations were also held
with other locals of Juan de Herrera. Moreover, some information was gathered from
conversations with different members of Juan de Herrera’s council. The interviews with
members of households with a female migrant in the Netherlands (where the migrants
were a close relative, such as sister, mother, wife or daughter) formed a total of eleven
interviews. Nine of them were with female family members and two were with male.
Marta, Julia, Paulina and Roberta are mothers with daughters in the Netherlands. Elisa
has a mother and a sister in the Netherlands. Ana, Carmen, Dilania and Sara all have

62
     Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery, VIII) Noticeable differences in the houses with or
without remittances from migrants abroad.

                                                   70
sisters in the Netherlands. Agustin’s wife has been in the Netherlands for a few years
now and has just moved to Spain. Finally, Braulio’s mother is in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, the eleven migrant women of these eleven households all have children in
the Dominican Republic. The nine female family members who were interviewed,
Marta, Julia, Paulina, Roberta, Elisa, Ana, Carmen, Dilania and Sara, are in charge of
the children of the female migrants. However, in the case of Agustin and Braulio, the
children of their migrant female relative are not under their care. In the case of Agustin,
even though he is the father of the children, the children live with their maternal
grandmother. Two returnees were also interviewed, Flores and Luisa. Flores has come
back after almost a decade in the Netherlands. Her two younger sisters are still there. In
the time she was abroad, her children grew up under the care of her mother, together
with the children of her sisters. The case of Luisa is similar; her children too were under
the care of her mother while she was away. Although they have now both returned, the
children are adults and have their own home. In addition to the interviews,
conversations and observations carried out in Juan de Herrera, it is important to
remember the information gathered at Casa Migrante and from two migrants from Juan
de Herrera working as sex workers in Amsterdam. Even though I only met them in the
final stages of this research, they helped greatly in gaining better a understanding of the
female led migration from Juan de Herrera to the Netherlands, and how it is related to
sex work, from the point of view of the migrant.


     I. Migration related to sex work as a livelihood strategy and the web of female
social networks.

Every year people leave their own countries in order to find work opportunities,
increased income or the chance to start a better life for themselves and for their
families. A high number of women from developing areas of the world who travel to
more developed countries end up in sex work, either of their own free will or as a result
of some type of coercion. The sex sector in the Netherlands has been increasingly
transnational now for many years, meaning that a large number of female migrants from
developing countries end up as sex workers. In cities in the Netherlands, such as
Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, the number of migrant sex workers is
considerably larger than the number of those who are local. It is remarkable that in the
case of Dominican sex workers in Amsterdam, there is an area nicknamed “El Barrio
de Juan de Herrera” (the Juan de Herrera Neighbourhood), due to the high number of
women from Juan de Herrera working as sex workers there.

The transnational migration from Juan de Herrera has been particularly characterised by
two main features. First it is widespread and mainly consisting of women. Second a
large number of these migrant women are in the Netherlands, in particular in
Amsterdam, and to a lesser extent in The Hague and Rotterdam63. During the fieldwork
research in Juan de Herrera my suspicions were raised that female migrants from this
community were working as sex workers in the Netherlands. Once in Amsterdam, back
from the fieldwork and while carrying out projects with Casa Migrante, my suspicions
were confirmed as I had the opportunity to meet women who are working as sex
workers in Amsterdam and were from Juan de Herrera. In the case of Juan de Herrera, it

63
  The case of Amsterdam is the only one that has been studied, due to constraints related to the time
available and the budget for the research.



                                                 71
is therefore important to include sex work within the framework of migration. In this
community among migrant women, there is a considerable number that end up in sex
work of their own free will. This is because they themselves decide that sex work is the
best way to deal with their poverty and improve their financial situation. I have
therefore concluded that migration from Juan de Herrera related to sex work is
understood as a livelihood strategy. Sexual labour has become an integral part of many
female led households in Juan de Herrera. This notion of migration related to sex work
shows the lack of multiple and varied resources that these women can tap into to sustain
themselves and their families. It is not always obvious how, due to poverty or lack of
skills, women from Juan de Herrera turn to this livelihood strategy. For this it is
important to take into account the role of social networks, which offer the possibility of
migrating and working in sex work in the Netherlands. The majority of these women
get to know about migration related to sex work via other women. Female social
networks seem to be the most important element in the transmission of knowledge. The
lack of well-paid jobs and education in the place of origin, coupled with the pressure on
women to be, in almost all cases, the sole breadwinners for their households, leads to
sex work abroad becoming a real option. Thus migration to a wealthier part of the world
in order to generate income takes on a greater importance in the overall picture of this
community. Migration to another country offers some relief from the condemnation of
sex labour, in that it allows women to work anonymously in a new environment.
However, apart from making the procedure to migrate possible, the gossip related to
well established social networks means that even though the women migrants do not
seem to talk with those back home of the nature of their work abroad, knowledge of the
predominance of migrants working in the sex sector has become common in Juan de
Herrera.

There are underlying motives for the feminisation of migration in the community of
Juan de Herrera. These have been the result of the concurrent convergence of certain
factors that have also been mentioned in the previous chapter. One of the most
significant characteristics is that the households that formed part of this study were of a
matrifocal nature, in which casual relationships tend to be socially accepted and where
there is a lack of the presence of a man as father or husband. Furthermore more, the
increase in unemployment among men and the difficulties faced by women to enter into
the formal labour sector also play a significant role. Women often find themselves
having to cover the roles of breadwinner as well as caregiver, and so have to consider
the option of migrating as a livelihood strategy. They then pass on their role as a
caregiver to other female relatives, such as sisters, adult daughters or their mother.
Similar to the previous five cases studied, the main drive to migrate was primarily
because of economic reasons. The answer given by all respondents in regard to the
question “why migrate?” was unanimous; it was a financial one. There was a genuine
need for an income, coupled with the idea of improving the standard of living for their
family household. Since the migrants are all women with children, their main focus was
in fact their children. When asking the family members of female migrants about the
reasons why it was generally women who migrate abroad, the interviewees all agreed
that this was because women are the ones who take care of the family.
          “Here we are poor, and over there a woman can ensure that her family over
         here lives a little better…They don’t do it for themselves, but for their family.”
         (Marta, mother of a female migrant in the Netherlands)64

64
     Original in Appendix VII: 31

                                               72
       “Some years ago, life over here consisted of nothing more than agriculture,
      and so migration came about. So my sister decided to go for her children.”
      (Ana, sister of a female migrant)65


       “In Juan de Herrera, there are no means (to earn a living), that’s why my
      sisters left for Holland.” (Sara, sister of a female migrant in the Netherlands)66


      “In Juan de Herrera there is little work, and even less so for a woman with
      children.”(Elisa, whose mother and two older sisters are in the Netherlands)67

The family also conditions and helps to structure migration related to sex work. In Juan
de Herrera women are traditionally the breadwinners and are responsible for taking care
of the children. Economic responsibilities are therefore of a central concern. Some of
these women have followed in their sister’s, aunt’s, daughter’s or mother’s footsteps.
When in a household a female role model comprises sex work as a livelihood strategy,
female members of the family become used to sex work as a prospective earnings
generating activity. The decision to migrate and work as sex workers in the Netherlands
is often taken by the household as a whole, since the income generated from this will be
to provide for the needs of the household. The case of Sara, her daughter and her sisters,
demonstrates how a decision of migrating (as well as the assumption of working in the
sex sector) is taking as a household strategy, rather than through individual choice.
Sara, who has a sister in the Netherlands, and other sisters in Germany and Curaçao,
explains that the reason she does not migrate like her sisters is because of her daughter.
Her daughter has two small children and is single, so if she goes, there are no other
close female relatives left in Juan de Herrera to help her daughter in taking care of the
children. They think the best way for the survival of the family unit (Sara, her daughter
and the two children) would be if Sara’s daughter migrates and joins one of her aunts to
earn money to send back to Juan de Herrera. In this way she can help her children
financially on the one hand, while Sara will be able take care of them on the other. Sara
thinks that it will not only be the children who gain from the financial income, but it
will also benefit the whole household unit, thus including herself. This is because if
Sara’s daughter migrates, Sara will be taking care of her daughter’s children, and she
assumes she will be receiving money sent by her daughter for the living costs of the
children, from which she can also benefit. This case is a clear one, where the decision to
migrate has become a household decision as a livelihood strategy. If it is taken into
account that there is a high probability that Sara’s sisters are working in the sex sector,
Sara’s daughter is likely to follow suit, given that her migration and subsequent work
will be facilitated through her aunts. As Sara explains:

      “I can’t go, because I have a daughter and two grandchildren, and she doesn’t
      have a husband, so I have to help her. But I encourage her to go, and then she
      can help me afterwards, such as by building me a new house for the family”
      (Sara, sister of a female migrant in Amsterdam)68



65
   Original in Appendix VII: 32
66
   Original in Appendix VII: 33
67
   Original in Appendix VII: 34
68
   Original in Appendix VII: 35

                                            73
There was another interesting point mentioned during the interviews by women who
had a close female relative abroad. When asked about the reason for the trend of female
led migration from Juan de Herrera, they stated that it is a consequence of the
subordination women have suffered for many years in the community to their male
counterparts. This shows the women from Juan de Herrera’s need for liberation from
what they understand as subordination to men:

       “There are so many women who go because before they were very subordinated
       to the men, and now they want to break out and free themselves.”(Dilania, sister
       of a female migrant in the Netherlands)69

This last quotation and the liberation by migrating as Dilania understands it are quite
contradictory and present a series of layers. In the first place, according to the results of
the interviews and informal conversations, female migrants from Juan de Herrera have
migrated in order to cover expenses that they could not meet whilst living in the
community, because they are single or divorced mothers and in general the fathers of
these children do not take on any financial responsibilities related to the children’s
upbringing70. Moreover, the work that these female migrants tend to fall into in the host
country is a form of subordination, as in the majority of the cases for Juan de Herrera
the work of the migrant is understood to be in the sex trade, where women can be
physically and emotionally subordinated or maltreated by male clients. In some cases
they also have to face discrimination and a feeling of inferiority due to the jobs they
carry out, whether in the host society or back in their own community. Despite these
circumstances many women, whether they are migrants or female relatives of the
migrants, understand migration as a step forward in liberating themselves from men.
Migration gives women a financial security that makes them feel independent from
men. Migrant women also feel proud to be able to provide for their children and other
family members, because this makes them earn respect from their community. They
therefore feel that migration allows women from Juan de Herrera to break the ties of
subordination to men. On the one hand they might feel liberated in their place of origin,
whilst on the other hand the situation in the host country creates new types of
subordination for the migrant, such as feeling the insecurity of being undocumented
and/or an object of racism. In some cases they also suffer from a double reputation in
the place of origin, where they are regarded by some people with respect, and in other
cases they are seen as the women to blame for leaving the children behind and working
in something morally wrong. This was the case for the husband of a female migrant in
Amsterdam, Agustin. He showed bitterness regarding the female migration occurring in
Juan de Herrera. This was also reflected by comments from other local males. These
men mentioned how women change upon their return. With their new-found money and
independence they are not “buenas mujeres” (good women) any more. The men also
think that if they have earned so much money outside the Dominican Republic, it is
because they have been involved in bad businesses, such as “prostitution”, which
defines their activities as “wrong” or something to be ashamed of. These expressions of
bitterness and criticisms towards the female migrants from a male perspective indicate
that men feel that their power over women of the community is threatened. In addition,
women from Juan de Herrera do avoid talking about the topic of sex work, and it seems


69
   Original in Appendix VII: 36
70
   There is also a lack of governmental financial help. This is not discussed further in this research, but it
is always important to bear in mind.

                                                      74
that all the women interviewed claimed to be unaware of what exactly the job of their
migrant female relative was, or simply negated to answer.

Nevertheless, there is generally a positive view towards the “travellers” from the
perspective of other women from the community. Women understand that mothers have
to migrate and work as part of a livelihood strategy, given that they are burdened with
the responsibility of bringing up the family, whilst at the same time being locked in a
position of economic hopelessness. This understanding among women is also showed in
regard to the amount and frequency of money sent by the migrants. For example, in the
case of Ana, who has been taking care of her sister’s children, she did not reproach or
criticise her sister when there have been times she could not send enough money for the
maintenance of the children. On the contrary, she argued that she was concerned about
her wellbeing. The migrant women feel secure and backed up by their female relatives,
whether in the host country or in the community of Juan de Herrera. In the Netherlands,
female friends or female relatives of the migrant help them in various ways. The
traveller gets help to migrate and then to get established and settled in the new
environment. In the community of Juan de Herrera, female relatives of the migrants
normally show that they understand and support the decision of migrating (and
probably the type of work they will be doing), by taking care of the migrant’s children.
Furthermore, the migrants also acknowledged that without the support of their female
relatives at both ends, migration would not have been possible. This is the meaning of
female kin social networks and support, which in turns translates into a livelihood
strategy in a matrifocal system.

Contrary to this, during the interview and a subsequent informal conversation, Agustin
showed plenty of anger with respect to his wife travelling abroad. He believes it was not
necessary to migrate in order to provide for their two daughters and build a house. He
equated her migration as abandoning both him and their daughters.

         “I see it that once she left, in reality she didn’t care about her children, she only
         thinks about her prostitution and earning money. Especially for the people of
         this village, if you don’t have money you are not worth anything. If you build
         yourself a house, later you want one that’s better […] She works in prostitution,
         because I calculated the amount of money she must be earning…and what’s
         more all the one’s who go over there go there to get into this […] So I don’t
         want her to get the definitive papers of residence, because once she has them
         she won’t stop travelling […] Having a wife over there, is like not having a wife
         at all. So our daughters are now being taking care of by their maternal
         grandmother, because that what’s best for the girls.” (Agustin, husband of a
         female migrant)71

It is worth noting how since his wife migrated their two daughters are not under his
care. The role of caregiver is now taken up by the migrant’s mother. In this respect,
Agustin argued that this was the best option for their daughters, since he thought that he
could not be responsible on his own for the two girls. This example illustrates how the
gender roles are not changed or improved by women’s migration. Rather women are
forced to reorganise their tasks and responsibilities, reinventing new forms of the role of
a caregiver in spite of the physical separation. In this example, the mother who has


71
     Original in Appendix VII: 37

                                                75
migrated becomes a transnational mother while the mother of the migrant takes care of
the two girls, since Agustin does feel prepared to take on this responsibility.

Having stated that the main driving factor for migrating has been an economic
necessity, it would also be interesting to mention why the female migrants chose the
Netherlands as their destination. It seems that the existence of someone with experience
of migration, who also falls within the social sphere of the prospective migrant, is the
crucial factor for all the cases studied in Juan de Herrera. All the interviewees said that
their female relatives had someone they knew from Juan de Herrera already in the
Netherlands. They argued that this was the main reason for choosing to migrate to this
country. This indicates that the role of social networks is critical in taking the decision
to migrate and in the place to go to. A further reason to migrate to the Netherlands
mentioned in the interviews was, since it is common for people in Juan de Herrera to
migrate to the Netherlands, the prospective migrant thinks they are likely to find
something familiar there.

      “My daughter went to Holland because everyone from here goes over there.”
      (Paulina, mother of a female migrant in the Netherlands)72

       “Because there was a sister in law who was already over there, who helped my
      daughter.” (Paulina, mother of female migrant in the Netherlands)73

      “My sister went to Holland because she had an aunt there. She helped in getting
      the necessary documents together and she found her a man with whom my sister
      got married.”(Carmen, sister of a female migrant in Amsterdam)74

      “My daughters went to Holland because they had a study colleague who had a
      friend in Holland, and this is how they went over.”(Roberta, mother of female
      migrants in the Netherlands)75

Regarding the way migration is achieved, it can be seen how this is closely related to
the contacts between women. The most popular way of entering the Netherlands is by
an arranged marriage. The woman who is already settled in the Netherlands helps
another woman from Juan de Herrera to migrate by finding a man in the Netherlands
willing to marry her. This allows the prospective migrant to acquire the right documents
to travel and stay with a legal status in the host country. The role of social networks is
therefore again the key for the migration procedure. The role of arranged marriages is
an interesting point for further investigation. The case of the daughter of Julia explains
the migration procedure through an arranged marriage in more detail. She met a man
through one of her female friends in Juan de Herrera. This man came to the Dominican
Republic looking for business, which is understood to mean that he was looking for a
woman wishing to get married in order to migrate, and who was willing to pay for the
service. The thick web of social networks between women in Juan de Herrera and in the
Netherlands from Juan de Herrera, led to the man travelling to this community, where
he was introduced to the daughter of Julia. This marriage cost 15000 Dominican pesos,
which is approximately 300 Euros at the time of writing. However, this particular case

72
   Original in Appendix VII: 38
73
   Original in Appendix VII: 39
74
   Original in Appendix VII: 40
75
   Original in Appendix VII: 41

                                            76
happened some 20 years ago. Currently the cost of these marriages can easily reach
5000 Euros. The majority of women who still reside in Juan de Herrera and who wish
to embark in the migratory procedure do not have this amount of money, thus they have
to borrow some money from women already in the Netherlands working as sex
workers. After gaining the required documents and marriage certificate in the
Dominican Republic, Julia’s daughter was able to travel to the Netherlands. Once in
Holland another friend from Juan de Herrera (who was already in the Netherlands)
helped her to find a house, a job and establish herself in the new country. Years later,
once Julia’s daughter was established she met a Dutch man who was also looking for
business (meaning again that he wanted to get married for money). Julia’s daughter
knew that her sister in Juan de Herrera was looking for a way to migrate, and so she
offered her the possibility of paying for a marriage in exchange for the right to legally
migrate to the Netherlands. Now the role of Julia’s daughter was like the one she was
herself helped by all those years ago76. It is also important to note that there are other
cases where the migrant enters the Netherlands with a tourist visa, although they aim to
stay for a longer period.

This web of female social networks as in the case of Julia’s daughters is common to all
the cases who have migrated from Juan de Herrera. In every interview carried out in
Juan de Herrera, it was explained how the migration of the female relative was made
possible because they had someone they already knew in the Netherlands (sisters, half-
sisters, aunts, female cousins, or female friends). The contact or the link is always a
woman. The woman who is already in the Netherlands offers help to the woman who
wishes to migrate. First the women already abroad show that the possibility of
migration is a reality. Second the woman in the place of destination also helps the
woman who wishes to migrate with the practical issues, such as an invitation to enter
the country, helping to arrange the visa and the flight ticket. In some cases economical
help is also offered. Finally, there is the emotional support given once both women are
united in the Netherlands. The social networks do not stop at this point. They are also
crucial for the recently arrived migrant in order to develop their life in the new
environment abroad. Normally, the woman who has been longer in the host country,
and who has been the contact for the migrant, helps the new migrant to settle in the city
and get contacts for jobs. If the woman who helps the newly arrived migrant works
within the sex sector in Amsterdam, the work contacts she will have are not surprisingly
also within the same sector. The living arrangements and friends are also likely to be
related to the same sector.

The life of the new migrant is often therefore closely related to the life of the women
who have helped her. It is important to note that this trend does not suggest a lack of
control for female migrants from Juan de Herrera in respect to their jobs and situation.
Rather it illustrates the strength of social networks in migration, and how sometimes,
even though social networks facilitate the migration process (emotionally, practically
and in some cases even economically), they also create barriers for the migrants,
building up a blindness to the other possibilities available. Social networks among
women in Juan de Herrera thus shape the form of migration from this community.




76
   It is important to remark that there were only a few cases where the interviewees felt they were able to
talk freely about arranged marriage. Therefore, this data was slightly difficult to gather, along with the
work of the female migrants, since the interviewees were quite reluctant to discuss it in any detail.

                                                   77
         “The half-sister of my sister was the contact for my sister, the half-sister had
         already been there a number of years. She helped her with the papers and
         everything else, she also paid for her ticket. Upon arriving she offered her
         house to stay in and she helped her to find work so that she could pay back the
         money lent for the ticket.”(Dilania, sister of a migrant in the Netherlands)77

         “My sister left 16 years ago, having been helped by a friend of hers. Later on
         this elder sister helped my other sister, then once over there the two took over
         my mother, and now I am doing the paperwork to go over.”(Elisa, whose
         mother and two older sisters are in the Netherlands)78


        II. Household, Transnational Motherhood and Transnational Sex Workers

The households that participated in the interviews carried out in Juan de Herrera
constitute transnational households. Similar to the five cases studied, this means that the
members of the household residing in Juan de Herrera and the migrants in the
Netherlands are economically linked. This is based on the idea that a transnational
household consists of a family model where a member, or members, live some or most
of the time separated from each other in different countries, yet remain together and
create something that feels like a collective welfare and unit. This notion is not new, but
advances in transport and new technologies in communication further strengthen the
relationships in the transnational household and help to maintain them. In the research
in Juan de Herrera, the member of the family living abroad is always a woman, who is a
mother as well as daughter, sister, aunt…etc. These female migrants are living a dual
life, where on the one hand they are sisters, daughters, aunts, friends, and most
importantly mothers in the community of Juan de Herrera, and on the other hand many
of them are (transnational) sex workers in the Netherlands.

The family relatives in Juan de Herrera miss the migrants, worry about them, feel the
insecurity of their situation and despite the new facilities of communication, sometimes
they feel useless and unable to help them due to the distances involved. The main role
taken on by the female relatives of these female migrants is to cover some of the
responsibilities that the migrant cannot carry out during their absence. This mainly
consists of the upbringing of the migrant’s children. This is referred to as chains of care.
The migration then leads to a restructuring of the household, with other female relatives
taking on the roles of caregivers whilst the migrant fulfils that of a breadwinner and
becomes a transnational mother. In some occasions a trabajadora (female domestic
worker) is hired to cover some of the tasks of the female migrant. An example of this
was the case of Dilania’s sister. When Dilania’s sister migrated, she left her daughter
with the father of the child, which is an exception compared to what has been said so
far. However, Dilania explained that this was because their mother had died and her
other sister was already in Amsterdam. When Dilania’s sister migrated, Dilania was too
young to take on the upbringing of her sister’s children. Thus, the only solution was to
leave the child with the father, who, in agreement with the migrant, employed a
domestic worker to work full time in the house. This meant that the trabajadora took on
all the roles Dilania’s sister couldn’t do whilst abroad, and so once again the role of a
caregiver was passed on to another woman. However, during the interview with

77
     Original in Appendix VII: 42
78
     Original in Appendix VII: 43

                                              78
Dilania, the role of the father of the child was not concluded and remained in the air.
The other cases interviewed in Juan de Herrera all follow a more typical pattern of
distributing the task of caregivers among female relatives. This means that the women
who stay in Juan de Herrera tend to see a growth in their household tasks and
responsibilities. Elisa argues:

      “I have been left alone with my male brothers, it’s up to me to do everything for
      them. But what’s more I can’t share the chores with my sisters, given that they
      are in Holland.” (Elisa, whose mother and two sisters are in the Netherlands)79

      “When my sister decided to go, my mother and I took on the upbringing of her
      son.” (Sara, sister of female migrant in the Netherlands)80

This last quotation also indicates that in the village of Juan de Herrera, the taking care
of the children of the migrants is sometimes shared by different close female relatives.
In those cases remittances are spread in the family between different adult members and
children of the migrants. However, the main use of the remittances sent remains to be
the covering of the maintenance costs of the children and of the household bills. A
second, but nevertheless very important priority is to save money to build a house.
Similar to the five case studies in the previous chapter, the remittances are always sent
to women. Marta explains in her interview that her daughters send her the money,
because she is the one who cooks and takes care of her daughters’ children. But the
daughters do not need to tell her how to administer it, since they know that she will use
the money for the welfare of their children and of the whole family.

       “I take on the administration of the money, given that it is I who takes care of
      the children.”(Ana, sister of a migrant in Amsterdam)81

In the five case studies of the previous chapter, it was found that the effects of taking
care of the children of the migrants really depends on the age of the children. Normally,
the younger the children are, the more pressure, responsibilities, stress and restrictions
to freedom is felt by the woman who takes care of them. However, there were many
exceptions to this tendency in Juan de Herrera. An example is Julia, mother of two
daughters abroad, who is taking care of all the children of her daughters and of one
great grandchild. She stated that she does not mind to be in charge of all her
grandchildren, on the contrary she is very happy to be surrounded by family, and that
for her having one more child under her care only means one more handful of rice in
the cooking pot.

      “I have brought up my daughters, my grandchildren…and now my great
      grandchildren.” (Julia, mother of two female migrants)82

Many other respondents mentioned the same feeling. For example, Flores was one of
the returnees interviewed in Juan de Herrera, who explained that when she and her
sisters left Juan de Herrera their mother was heartbroken. But the idea of being in
charge of the upbringing of the children of her three daughters, and so of being

79
   Original in Appendix VII: 44
80
   Original in Appendix VII: 45
81
   Original in Appendix VII: 46
82
   Original in Appendix VII: 47

                                           79
surrounded by a youthful family, gave her strength and optimism. The children of these
three migrants have grown up with their grandmother, respect her and have never felt
the urge to go to the Netherlands83. Within this pattern of chains of care, shared
transnational motherhood among female kin networks seems to be slightly easier for the
women in the place of origin. Women in Juan de Herrera who are charged with taking
care of the children do not seem to suffer as much stress as in the cases of women living
in an urban area (such as the case study of Jacinta in the previous chapter). It appears
that bringing children up in a rural area is more relaxed than in cities. The task of taking
care of the children can easily be shared by other female members of the family, due to
the short distances within the parameters of the village. Additionally, children are
believed to be exposed to less danger when playing in the street of a village than in the
cities. The three children who were under the care of Jacinta were most of the time
either at school, or indoors in a small flat. This can cause anxiety for the children, and
therefore more tension for the woman who is in charge of them. On the contrary,
children from Juan de Herrera can play freely in the park, in the streets, in the
countryside. It is considered to be less dangerous because most of the time there is an
adult around who knows them. These migrants and their families have created a space
for the transnational household. As described in Chapter V, interaction between
members of the family occurs in this transnational space. Emotional and practical
support, along with social and economic remittances flow from the place of origin to
the host country and vice versa. New forms of being a mother, daughter, grandmother,
sister, etc are created. Furthermore, similar to the previous chapter’s five cases studied,
the most important tool to maintain this relationship and to create this new space for the
household to interact, is the telephone. Communication is very frequent, although it
differs depending on the age of the children. For instance when the migrant’s children
are small, the migrant tends to phone the woman who is taking care of her children
almost on a daily basis. The migrant can then know how her children are behaving, how
they are doing in school, etc, as well as get a general update on the family and
community. Julia explained that, since she is taking care of the children of her
daughters, who are all abroad, the telephone is always ringing in her house. It is always
one of her daughters asking how the children are and how she is. Julia said that before
her daughters migrated, they did not have a telephone in Juan de Herrera. When it was
necessary to phone, they used the telephone of a neighbour. But after her daughters left,
they sent money to get a landline, and later on to buy mobiles phones for the oldest
children and for Julia. In this way they could reach each other easily.

Thus, it can be said that the migration of these women has brought new technologies of
communication for the community. The question that remains unanswered is whether
this would have happened without the migration of these mothers. For this it is
interesting to see the changes that have occurred in transnational households within the
last decades. Thanks to the telephone the links in the transnational household have been
easier to maintain in the community of Juan de Herrera. Before the introduction of
landlines and mobiles in the households of the female migrant families, relatives and
migrants were only able to talk once or twice per month. This was due to the cost of the
call, and because they had to arrange the telephone call either with a neighbour who had
a landline, or by going to a nearby town with a public phone. In the case of Juan de


83
  This was because their mothers never proposed their children to join them in the Netherlands. Probably
because the mothers of these children have been working as sex workers, and did not want to show their
daughters and sons the realm of their lives abroad, for fear of rejection and embarrassment.

                                                  80
Herrera people used to go to San Juan de la Maguana, the nearest town.84 So when
contemplating how a migrant mother might interact with her children in Juan de Herrera
during the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s, it seems that the relationship was poorer, since
communication was difficult. Nowadays it is easier for the female migrants to carry out
their role as a transnational mother. Ana, who has had her sister for more than 20 years
in the Netherlands and has been taking care of her children, explained how nowadays
everyone has mobiles and telephone landlines. Therefore, children and mothers can talk
more often thanks to the new technology and the money sent back home to pay for it.

      “When my sister left in the 80s there was no way to call each other, it was
      necessary to go to the neighbouring city for a phone. So when we spoke it cost a
      lot of money, and there was little time to talk, she didn’t have time to tell me
      how it was all going. She had to listen to the news that I told her about her
      children and our mother. And look at how things have changed now, now there
      are mobiles everywhere.” (Ana, sister of female migrants in Amsterdam)85

The facilities and advantages brought by new technologies into the lives of the female
migrants and their families in Juan de Herrera have meant a great deal for the
maintenance of the transnational household. However, it has also meant that it has
become more difficult to keep the nature of the work and life of the migrants in the
Netherlands secret. This is a sign of the negative side of social network. In the majority
of the cases the female migrant from Juan de Herrera travelling to the Netherlands
works in the sex sector. This is seen by many as a job to be ashamed of, and so, as was
explained previously, these migrants are suffering from a double reputation where they
are economically successful and independent on the one hand, and are despised for
working as a sex worker on the other hand. The life of these female migrants has
therefore now become the centre of criticisms and judgments by many people, mainly
male. In some cases this means that their private life is under scrutiny, and becomes a
topic of gossip in the public sphere. For example, when Agustin was asked what
employment his wife is doing in Amsterdam, his answers portrayed negativity and
anger:

      “Regarding my wife, I do not agree with it all! She tells me, that she works in a
      restaurant, this is what everyone says. But I don’t believe it! What I believe is
      that she is working in prostitution.”(Agustin, husband of a female migrant in
      Amsterdam)86

The close female relatives of the migrants maintain a silence about the job of their
relatives abroad. This is probably in order to protect them against judgments and/or
because they also understand the reasons behind their migration; their children. This is
contrary to the five cases studied in the previous chapter, where in almost all cases the
interviewees were aware of everything concerning the job of their migrant relative, and
they were also open to talk about the subject.

In the case of the family members of the female migrants from Juan de Herrera, there
was a kind of silence, reluctance to talk, or what seemed to be a lie about the work
situation of their relatives in the Netherlands. When these relatives in Juan de Herrera

84
   Please refer to map of the Dominican Republic in Appendix IV.
85
   Original in Appendix VII: 48
86
   Original in Appendix VII: 49

                                                 81
were exposed to the question What does your sister, mother or daughter do in the
Netherlands? (referring to work), answers like the following were given:

      “Well…I don’t know what to tell you…I don’t know what she works in.”(Ana,
      her daughter is in the Netherlands)87

      “I don’t know.” (Sara, her sisters are in the Netherlands)88

      “…mmmmhhh…in a restaurant.”(Flores, returnee from the Netherlands and has
      two sister migrants)89

      “My mother got married…but…I don’t know what my sisters do for
      work…mmmm…in a restaurant I think!”(Elisa, whose mother and two sisters
      are in the Netherlands)90

      “Well…, I don’t know…I think in a restaurant.” (Marta, mother of a female
      migrant in the Netherlands)91

In regard to the last quotation, it seemed clear that Marta was uncertain about the nature
of her daughter’s job. She seemed to not remember or know what work her daughter
was doing. However, in the same interview she explains her travel to the Netherlands to
visit her daughter a few months ago, when she stayed in her daughter’s apartment for
three months. Thus, it seems quite contradictory that after living with her daughter in
the same place and even in the same house, she does not know what her daughter is
doing for a job. This silence about the work female migrants are doing in the host
country indicates negative prevailing attitudes towards sex work. In the cases where the
family members know the work the migrant is doing, they try to cover it up in order to
protect them from negative judgments by the community members. This is further
illustrated by the case of Ana, whose sister migrated to the Netherlands years ago.
When Ana was asked about her sister’s employment in the Netherlands, she
immediately answered without hesitation, saying her sister had worked first in taking
care of the children of a Dutch family, before finding a better paid job as a cleaner.
These two jobs are not very well remunerated and in this case it seems that Ana was not
able to send much in the way of remittances. Her family house (a poor, small wooden
structure) in Juan de Herrera has been the same for more than 50 years, and as Ana
argued they have not had enough remittances sent by her sister to build a new brick
house. Therefore, housing could be understood as an indicator of the wealth of migrants
in the host country. By walking through the streets of this community, it was easy to
notice which households had a migrant abroad, since the houses were big, made out of
concrete instead of wood, with a garden and a car parked at the front92. This contrasted
greatly with the other households that did not have migrants abroad, where the majority
of the houses were old wooden structures. The size of the house, the type of car, etc was
also a clear indicator of households who have a migrant sending money from what

87
   Original in Appendix VII: 50
88
   Original in Appendix VII: 51
89
   Original in Appendix VII: 52
90
   Original in Appendix VII: 53
91
   Original in Appendix VII: 54
92
   Please refer to Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery VIII) Noticeable differences in the houses with or
without remittances from migrants abroad.

                                                 82
probably is work in the sex sector, and other households where the migrants had lower
paid jobs.

It was observed during the field work research in Juan de Herrera and afterwards when
meeting women migrants from Juan de Herrera working in the sex sector in
Amsterdam, that the role of a mother becomes more difficult to deal with when one is
working in the sex sector. In the case of Pamela and Julia (women from Juan de Herrera
working in the sex sector in the red light district of the Wallen in Amsterdam), they
have told their children that they are working in a sports shop in Madrid (Spain). The
reason for this is that they are afraid to say that they are working in Amsterdam, since
they know the assumption the locals in Juan de Herrera have regarding women
migrating to the Netherlands. They think that by saying to their children that they are
working in Madrid, it will be more difficult to link them with sex work. This is a sign
that they feel ashamed of what are they doing and fear rejection by their children. This
situation affects their roles as a transnational mother. First, they cannot talk about and
share the realities of their experiences of living in another country. Second, they would
like to invite their children to visit them, or in some cases bring them over to grow up
with their mother in the Netherlands, but they argue that their type of work prevents this
since they do not want to show their children the realities of their mother’s life. They
want to be seen as mothers who migrate to work for the wellbeing of their children, but
not as mothers who sell sexual favours in return for money in order to maintain their
households back in Juan de Herrera. When carrying out an interview with Flores, a
returnee to Juan de Herrera after more than a decade in the Netherlands, similar
objections to bring over the children whilst she was abroad came to light. When she
migrated during the 90s, she did it through an arranged marriage. She thus acquired
Dutch residence and would have been able to bring her children to the Netherlands.
However she did not do it, not wanting to give any particular reason for this during the
interview. Nevertheless, she helped her two younger sisters to follow her steps. Flores is
now back in her community, has been able to build two big houses in Juan de Herrera
and buy two 4X4 cars for herself and her family. This is in addition to the fact that she
has been able to sustain her children, mother and other close relatives thanks to the
money she was earning while she was working abroad. It can be understood therefore
that working as a sex worker abroad gives female migrants economic benefits and
improvements, both in their own lives and for their families back in Juan de Herrera,
but it closes the doors to any possibility of reunification with their children in the
Netherlands. It also makes the role of a transnational mother more difficult to fulfil, as a
level of dishonesty often needs to be maintained between the mother and her children.

In the five cases studied in the previous chapter, in all the cases that were not in the sex
sector, one of their wishes was a reunification with their family in the Netherlands, or in
the case of Blanca in Spain. However, migrant sex workers do not aim for this
reunification. In the majority of their cases they tend to aim to earn enough money to
sustain their households back in the place of origin, along with being able to build a
house for the future for the family and themselves. In doing so they are able to secure
their present and future financial situation once they are back in their place of origin.
On the other side, the family in Juan de Herrera depends entirely on the earnings from
the migrant, and so there is a latent pressure for the female migrant to continue this
financial support. Also, the prestige of having a close relative abroad, whether this is a
sister, mother or daughter who has made it overseas, means that the social status of the
family is raised. In consequence this puts pressure on the migrant to return with a built
house and in a good financial situation, thus pushing her to remain working in the sex

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sector. This prestige and social status therefore clashes and contradicts with the fear
from the family and the migrant to be honest about the type of work she is doing.
Working in the sex sector abroad makes it more difficult to maintain a transnational
household and fulfil the role of a transnational mother. It also exposes the migrant and
her family to negative judgements in the community of origin, as well as to
discrimination in the host country. On the other hand, migration related to sex work
brings economic relief, prosperity and therefore social status for the family in the
community of origin.




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VI. Conclusion
This thesis has been based on qualitative multi-sited fieldwork research on the subject
of transnational female Dominican migration. The first stage of the fieldwork research
was in Amsterdam in the form of interviews with female migrants from the Dominican
Republic and also with a number of their friends and relatives in the Netherlands. The
fieldwork research was then continued in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican
Republic, and Santiago, the second biggest city, with interviews, informal conversations
and daily observations with the corresponding households of the migrants. In addition,
research was done in Juan de Herrera, a village in the province of San Juan de la
Maguana, in the rural North West of the Dominican Republic. This part of the research
consisted of interviews with family members who have a female migrant in the
Netherlands, as well as some migrants who had returned to the community. Informal
conversations with locals and some members of the council of this community were
also carried out, as well as daily observations and photographic records of the
particulars of this community. Once back from the Dominican Republic post fieldwork
research was then conducted in Amsterdam. This was in conjunction with a project
called MEP (Migrantes en Prostitución) which is run by the organisation called Casa
Migrante, where further insights of female Dominican migration came to light. The total
dimension of the data collected through this fieldwork research has not been included
due to time constrains, but there is enough material from the overall research to extend
it into a future study.

Migration is one of the major issues of the 21st century; it is now a vital and an integral
part of the economy of the sending and receiving countries. This research has been on
migration within a context of global tendencies and the growth of disparities and
interdependency between the South and the North. Migration contributes to the
conditions that lead people feeling themselves to be poor, which in turn leads to further
migration flows in order to satisfy new-found aspirations and expectations. This process
is, according to Skeldon (2003), the root of most migrations, which although it gives the
impression that poverty is the main force, in reality it is the result of a desire to better
oneself against new standards, rather than the product of absolute deprivation. A
consequence of these factors is that many households and individuals carry out
migration as a livelihood strategy, in which livelihood is defined as a group of activities
that a member or members of a household undertake in a conscious way in order to
ensure the maintenance of this family unit (Ypeij 2009). For this reason, migration
cannot merely be understood as a simple livelihood strategy on its own, but also as a
way of maintaining a social class, a strategy to reduce the risk of downward class
mobility, or of a way to upgrade to another social class. In the parameters of this notion
there is no space to include the members of the household as passive actors, on the
contrary it shows their agency, whose actions are a response of structural forces. In the
case studies of this thesis the single or divorced Dominican mothers and their
households, coming from a matrifocal family background, embark on the decision of
migrating, thanks to the key support given by their female social network, in order to
make ends meet and support their children.

This feminisation of migration means that contrary to the portrayal of women as
invisible in past studies of migration, where the woman is often seen as an
accompanying partner of the male migrant, women now are the main actors of
approximately half of the migration flow. This implies that they take on the major role
of the breadwinner of their households, and this has helped to push to take gender into

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account in migratory studies. The traditional belief that female migration equals
women’s emancipation in my point of view is rather questionable, since my research
shows that while the migrants might gain in financial emancipation, they struggle in
personal emancipation, given that they still carry the weight of the caregiver roles in
addition to their role as breadwinners.

Through this research I have found that the migratory experience brings the migrant the
possibility of improving living conditions for themselves and for their families through
economic remittances. The experience also brings new knowledge gained from
migrating abroad and from a cultural exchange made possible by the flow of
communication through social networks. However, migration also comes with
ambiguities and contradictions. For example, migrants and families have to face a
physical separation from each other. In the case of the place of origin, households need
to be reorganised and most of the time close female relatives of the migrant are
burdened with more responsibilities which are passed on to them. Meanwhile in the host
country the migrant might experience racism, poor living conditions, discrimination and
exploitation, together with a sense of homesickness for their place of origin, family and
friends.

The theoretical point of view of this research is in accordance to scholars such as
Lawson (1998), who have criticised approaches to migration that presume that
economic motivations have the same importance for both genders, and which therefore
lack consideration of gender issues. For this reason I have taken a similar perspective as
Boyd and Grieco (2003), arguing that migration is a social process in which gender
plays an important role in deciding who migrates, the form and type of migration and
the consequential futures for the migrants and their families. I have argued that in the
overall picture of migration studies such as can be found in neoclassical economy and
political economy theoretical approaches, there is a lack of attention to gender,
household dynamics and gender relations. Therefore, in my approach to the subject of
my research on female transnational migration from the Dominican Republic to the
Netherlands, I claim that migration flows cannot be described by a particular theory.
Instead they can be seen as a livelihood strategy, taking into account factors such as
gender, class, ethnicity, the context of the country of origin, background of the
household and last but not least, the existence of social networks related to migration.
This migration is not an individual decision, but a strategy of survival determined by a
matrifocal household, where gender is a pivotal indicator and where economic
improvement for the family is the main aim.

Matrifocality in this research can be summarised as a family system where single or
divorced mothers and women are heading the household. In these matrifocal families,
motherhood encompasses emotional and material care and where female kinship social
networks and support play a crucial role in the maintaining of these households.
Therefore, this matrifocality is a key element in understanding and contextualising the
migration of Dominican women. These extended households in the Dominican Republic
are more prevalent among female headed households than among male headed ones.
The extended household plays a key role in supporting single mothers, since they do not
only supply housing and economic support, but also crucial child care. These family
networks offer women more security than would be given by a male partner. This then
allows the single mother to work and in some cases to migrate. Fonseca (1991)
understands the passing on of the responsibility of the upbringing children as an
adaptive survival strategy. In this sense, when the mother and sister of the migrant take

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care of the migrant’s children it can be understood a form of shared motherhood, which
is a stronger bond than trust. For this reason, female migration strengthens matrifocality,
while in turn the matrifocal households help the female migrants to migrate.

There is an extensive literature focussed on the migrant’s own experience, but there
seems to be a lack in empirical studies on the family of the migrants, in particular in the
case of female migrants. Furthermore, there is almost no research on households of a
matrifocal nature, which has encouraged me and made me curious as a researcher to pay
more attention to the families of the migrants. Yet the reality of migration needs to be
studied from a broader perspective, because migration produces new structures in the
receiving places, as well as maintaining social and economic relations that link the
societies of origin and destination. This means that in order to carry out a successful
overall research, whether it is focussed on the migrants or migrant’s families in the
place of origin, it has been crucial to cover studies in both the origin and host countries.
This enables a thorough understanding of context, reasons and effects of the migration,
as well as giving a general view of the migratory experience of the perspective both the
migrant and of the family members in the place of origin. For this reason I have chosen
a perspective of transnational migration (Schiller, Basch & Szanton 1992, Portes et al
2002, Mazzucato 2007), with the idea of connecting together -in a simultaneous way-
these two different branches of the study of migration. This takes into account the
connection between the sending and receiving countries, offers an alternative analytic
position in international migration studies and focuses on the regular relations between
migrants and the sending communities. The main focus of this investigation has been to
discover and learn what the main aspects and effects of transnational female migration
are on the place of origin, based on the understanding and experiences of transnational
households. Hence my main research question has been:

How do the transnational households of Dominican female migrants to the Netherlands
understand and experience the migration process, in particular in relation with social
networks and motherhood?

In addition to this, I have included sub-questions in order to get a better understanding
and a more complete view of the main research question. These have been:

    - What constitutes transnational motherhood and does it evolve?
    - What happens when these female migrants take on sex work as a livelihood
      strategy?
    - Are changes in gender patterns happening due to female transnational migration?
      (Is this female transnational migration changing any gender roles/pattern or
      relationships between women and men in the place of origin?)
    - What are the trends and tendencies of remittances?

The answer to my main question is that on general lines, this female migration is
understood and experienced by the family members and migrants interviewed as a
livelihood strategy. Thus, during the research the consideration of the context of this
migration became crucial. This context can be summarised as follows.

First of all, the most important characteristic of this research that links the five urban
cases studied together with the rural community of Juan de Herrera, making them a
homogeneous group, is that the migrants are all mothers from low class families, and
they were all single or divorced when they decided to migrate, leaving their children in

                                            87
the Dominican Republic. Before migrating, these single and divorced mothers used to
have jobs that tended to be low remunerated and were normally within the informal
sector, such as domestic worker, cleaning and cooking. These jobs are very low paid in
the Dominican Republic, and thus it stimulated the decision to migrate. In the particular
case of Juan de Herrera, many women were unemployed due to the shortage of labour
opportunities for women in rural areas. They therefore looked for alternatives to get an
income, and transnational migration presented itself as an option. This is further
heightened by the matrifocal nature of the households of the migrants, where men as
fathers and husbands tend to not provide for the household. So women find themselves
in charge of their children without support from their male partners. Generally men are
the beneficiaries of women as caregivers. The father’s deficiency in caring for and being
involved in the upbringing of the children is not often questioned. The gender rule that
makes women responsible for the care of their children is taking for granted.
Consequently, when the mother migrates and is not able to take the children with her,
the responsibility for the upbringing of the children passes on to other female members
of the households, as a form of share motherhood, based on female networks of trust.
For these reasons, it has been central to acknowledge the matrifocal nature of these
households, since during the research it was found to be a key characteristic and an
important factor for the decision to migrate of these women. Consequently the effects of
this migration on the household, along with the understanding and experience of the
family of migration, are different to what might be presented in the literature, i.e. the
effects and perception in a standard family unit (meaning father, mother and children).
Some accounts from scholars such as Safa (2005), Ypeij, (2009), Smith (1996),
Herskovits (1958), Stack (1975) and Fonseca (1991) have studied the significance of a
matrifocal family, giving a special focus on the mother who takes the role of
breadwinner and caregiver. These matrifocal families have historical roots in African
slavery in the Caribbean, emerging as an alternative family model, mainly in the black
lower class, where consanguine ties are more central than the conjugal bond.

As a result of these factors, these single and divorced mothers, who are the heads of
their matrifocal households, have opted for migration as a livelihood strategy. This has
been possible with the support given by other female relatives (predominantly mothers
and sisters of the migrants) since they take on the roles of caregivers for the children of
the female migrant. For this reason there is the creation of a space where the family
together the migrant form a geographically disperse social group (Boyd 1989),
commonly referred to as a transnational household. Nevertheless, I found interesting
differences between Juan de Herrera and the five cases studied earlier, which can be
translated into rural and urban experiences. In Juan de Herrera, the women taking care
of the migrant’s children do not seem to suffer as much stress as in the five cases
studied, where the women were living in an urban area. It appears that bringing children
up in a rural area is easier than in cities. The task of taking care of the children can
easily be shared by other female members of the family, due to the short distances
within the parameters of the village. Additionally, children are believed to be exposed to
less danger when playing in the streets of a village than those in cities. Children living
in urban areas spend most of the time at school or home (where home is normally small
flat). This can cause anxiety for children and therefore more tension for the woman who
is in charge of them. On the contrary, children from Juan de Herrera can play freely in
the park, in the streets and in the countryside. It is considered to be less dangerous
because most of the time there is an adult around who knows them.




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A transnational household implies the maintenance of emotional and financial links
among members of the family across national borders (Sorensen 2005, Landolt and Da
2005, Mahler 2001). In my research I found communication to be imperative for the
maintenance of these transnational households. During the interviews with the five
urban cases and the cases of Juan de Herrera, both migrants and families admit the
importance of the telephone to maintain their relations with each other. There were also
some cases in the past, which I was told about as an anecdote, in which migrant and
family could not afford or did not have a telephone landline (this was the case for the
migrants of the 1980s and the early to mid 1990s). In these cases, it was found that this
lack of communication between the migrants and the families had negative
repercussions, in particular on the relations between the mother and children. I found
the allusion to transnational motherhood, also discussed by Hondagneu-Sotelo
(1997), as meaning a reorganisation of the priorities of being a mother, in particular
regarding the physical relationship between mother and child. Providing food, clothing,
medicines and schooling for the children is the priority of transnational motherhood.
Through this female migration, which is based on a desire to improve the living
conditions for the children, the meaning of motherhood is reorganised to conform to the
distance and separation between mother and child. It was seen during the field work
research in Juan de Herrera, and afterwards when meeting women migrants from Juan
de Herrera working in the sex sector in Amsterdam, that the role of a mother becomes
more difficult to deal with when a migrant is working in the sex sector. This could be a
sign that they feel ashamed of what they are doing, and fear rejection by their children.
Nevertheless, it was found that migration related to sex work is understood as a
livelihood strategy by female relatives in the place of origin and that like other jobs it is
aiming for the well being of the children and the family. This means that there exist
family support networks that facilitate migration related to sex work. When in a
household a female role model undertake sex work as a livelihood strategy, female
members of the family become used to sex work as a prospective earnings generating
activity. The decision to migrate and work as sex workers in the Netherlands is often
taken by the household, and the income generated from this will be to provide for the
needs of the household. Yet, sex work affects the role as a transnational mother. First,
the mothers cannot talk about and share the realities of their experience of living in
another country. Second, they would like to invite their children to visit them, or in
some cases bring them over to join with them in the Netherlands, but they argue that
their type of work prevents this since they do not want to show their children the
realities of their life. They want to be seen as mothers who migrate to work for the
wellbeing of their children, but not as mothers who sell sexual favours in return for
money in order to maintain their households back in Juan de Herrera. In this manner, it
can be understood that working as a sex worker abroad gives female migrants economic
benefits and improvements, both in their own lives and for their families back in Juan de
Herrera, but it closes the doors to any possibility of reunification with their children in
the Netherlands. It also makes the role of a transnational mother more difficult to fulfil,
as a level of dishonesty often needs to be maintained between the mother and her
children. Thus, the prestige and social status gained through migrating, clashes with and
contradicts the fear from the family and the migrant to be honest about the type of work
she is doing. It also exposes the migrant and her family to negative judgements in the
community of origin, as well as to discrimination in the host country.

A key finding that has helped to understand the overall picture of this research has been
to look at the formation and maintenance of social networks, which has been in
particularly possible due to the fast development in communication and transportation

                                             89
technologies. Social networks in migration studies have been a point of attention for
many scholars, such as Portes (2005), Vertovec (2001) and Boyd (1989). The
understanding and the inclusion of social networks are fundamental in migration
studies, since they are the most important element in the transmission of knowledge. An
example of this is the transmission of equalitarian norms. When family members were
interviewed and asked about how the migration of their female kin was affecting them,
some respondents focussed on the new ideas transmitted by migrants related to the
treatment of women by men. Some female migrants have experienced a difference in
treatment by men when abroad than in the Dominican Republic, such as more respect
and a more equality. It is worth noting that only some of the respondents pinpointed this
aspect of migration. The question is then whether female migration really is changing
gender roles in the Dominican Republic. However, in some cases they did believe that
the fact of being a woman, together with the idea of bringing income to their
households, is helping women to become more independent from abusive boyfriends or
husbands. The family understood the migration of their female kin as another strategy to
fulfil the role as breadwinner that should, to their understanding, normally be fulfilled
by men. Thus, it would be too simplistic to argue that female migration is bringing
changes in gender issues which push towards an equal society. In reality at present
migration consists mainly of an additional burden for women.

Furthermore, social networks form social and economic structures for the individual,
family and community. They also transmit information about the places of destination,
and give support for the settlement of the migrant in the new place. They function as a
tool for the migrants in many different ways, such as helping to migrate, acquiring
documents, friendship and family ties, emotional support…etc. For that reason, in the
case of Juan de Herrera, social networks have played a crucial role in maintaining the
trend of female migration from Juan de Herrera to the Netherlands, along with its
relation to sex work. Apart from making the procedure of migrating possible, it is also
important to notice the more negative side of social networks. In this sense Portes
(1998) argues the relevance of taking the negativity of social networks into account is
crucial to having a balanced view of them, along with their impact and effect on the
migration procedure and the individuals involved in it. This for example was seen in the
cases of female migrants working in the sex sector. This social network can leak secrets
of the double life of the migrant as both a transnational mother and as sex worker in the
Netherlands, consequently making her, her family and children suffer a bad reputation
in the place of origin. Close female relatives of the migrants remain silence about the
job of their relatives abroad. This is probably in order to protect the migrant and their
children as well as the rest of the female against judgments. I found that in some cases
migrants suffer from a double reputation in the place of origin, where they are regarded
by some people with respect, and in other cases they are seen as the women to blame for
leaving the children behind and working in something morally wrong. The latter is the
perspective of a number of men, which could be understood as a reaction to what they
think is a threat of their male power: female migration equates to women becoming
economically independent. This reaction seems to be quite noteworthy. In this research
we are focussing on matrifocal households, where income of the households is
generated by women anyway, even before migration. It seems therefore, that it is not the
fact of earning money, but the fact of migration and working in the sex sector that raises
the men’s disproval. Therefore, this is probable not seem as a threat to male power but
to the moral contents and connotations of the picture associated generally with
motherhood. However this question has remained unanswered in my fieldwork due to
time constrains, as the observation of the aptitude if some men was made towards the

                                           90
end of the research fieldwork. Therefore I strongly recommend for future research to
include investigating the roles and beliefs of men in matrifocal household and
communities in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, in order to get a full picture of
matrifocal households.

Moreover, following the line of though emphasising the negative effects of social
networks, Juan de Herrera is an example in where women who decide to migrate
normally enter into the same kind of job as those in their social networks, which in their
case means they end up in sex work. Women who are already settled in the Netherlands
help other women from Juan de Herrera to settle in the new country. Since these women
who are already established in the new country work the sex sector, this is then
presented as the most logical path for the new migrants to follow, as this is the only area
where social networks can offer help and expertise. This connection does not mean that
women do not have agency of their life, but that through social networks sex worker is
simply the reality that they are offered in order to survive.

Furthermore, an interesting point related to the last comment, which came to light
during the research of the families of the five urban cases studied and even those in Juan
de Herrera is, that in some cases women understand migration as liberation, in
particular liberation from a patriarchal structure. Even though there is a high amount of
households of a matrifocal nature, this does not erase the patriarchal nature of the
majority of social, public and private structures and relations in the country (Reynolds
2008, Fonseca 1991). Despite the growth of women in labour participation, they still
suffer disadvantages. There is still a preference for men in jobs in the public sphere,
especially technical ones, which are also better remunerated. This patriarchal ideology
of the Dominican Republic in the public sphere is also seen in political parties and
labour unions, which seem to be reluctant to include women in their leadership circles.
For this reason the understanding of migration as liberation comes across in a very
contradictory manner. Families and migrants explained in the first place that the
migration occurred in order to cover expenses that they could not meet whilst living in
the Dominican Republic, because the mothers are single or divorced and in general the
fathers of the children do not take on any financial responsibilities related to their
upbringing. Therefore, one critical factor on which the decision of migration was based
was the lack of economical support from the men of the family. Both the role of a
mother and the role of a breadwinner have to be covered by women. The work that
these female migrants tend to fall into in the host country is a form of subordination.
This is especially so in the majority of cases from Juan de Herrera, where the work of
the migrant is understood to be in the sex sector. On the other hand, women in the place
or origin see their responsibilities increase, because they have to take care of the
children of the migrant. Despite these circumstances many women, whether they are
migrants or the female relatives of the migrants, understand migration as a step forward
in liberating themselves from men.

In this respect remittances might become useful in order to explain these feelings of
liberation for female migrants and their female relatives. In all cases studied in this
research, the households in the place of origin receive money from their female
migrants, and all female migrants send money back home. Remittances are one of the
main reasons these women migrate. Their goal is to improve the financial situation of
their households in the place of origin. These remittances within the framework of
female transnational migration have their own characteristics. Mainly the money is sent


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from women to women, which is because the migrant is a woman, and the person who
is in charge of the children of the migrant (because they are trusted) is also a women.
Thus if the migrant trusts her sister, mother or other female relative to take care of her
children, consequently it is also this woman who is given the trust to both receive and
administer the money sent. In almost all cases, respondents claimed that the reason they
do not send the money to men (partners or husbands) is due to a lack of trust, because
the women think that they will not spend the money on living expenses for the
household, but spend it on primarily personal consumption, i.e. alcohol. Nevertheless,
together with this motive given by respondents, note needs to be taken of the fact that
the men are rarely in the household on a stable and permanent basis, and so it seems
logical for them neither to receive, nor to administer the money sent. With relation to
the use of these remittances, both the households in the Dominican Republic and the
migrants in the Netherlands were unanimous in saying that remittances are primarily to
cover the expenses of the children, such as schooling, food and clothing. Covering the
costs of household bills is also an important target. And lastly, all migrants aim for
building a house in the place of origin for the sake of the children’s, other close
relatives’ and their own future wellbeing. The idea of building a house also offers the
migrant a territorial link with their own roots. This issue of building a house carries a
further significance, particularly in the case of Juan de Herrera, where it entails raising
the status of the household, coupled with the idea that the migrant has made it overseas.
However, this prestige and social status therefore clashes with and contradicts the fear
from the family and the migrant to be honest about the type of work that the migrant is
doing. Working in the sex sector abroad makes it more complex to maintain a
transnational household. It also exposes the migrant and her family to negative
judgements in the community of origin, as well as to discrimination in the host country.
On the other hand, migration related to sex work brings economic relief, and even
prosperity and social status for the family in the community of origin. A further
negative outcome of these remittances is the creation of a dependency on them. Some
respondents have stated that their only income is the money coming in from relative
abroad, while others mention that they did not see the point of working when there was
a flow of money (remittances) coming into the household. This is coupled with the fact
that they have more household chores to cover due to the absence of the female migrant,
and so less time to work in the public sphere. Therefore, the snowball effect on the
migrants in the Netherlands is a pressure to continue working. Thus in the case of sex
workers, it appears difficult for them to stop working without a reasonable amount of
money having been saved first.

Overall I hope to have shown that female transnational migration of Dominican single
and divorced mothers from a matrifocal background is understood to be a livelihood
strategy, which creates a transnational household where in the household of origin a
reorganisation of tasks takes place. There is also a creation of new ways of caring for
children as a result of the physical separation involved in migration, i.e. transnational
motherhood. Then there is the formation of new chains of care, where women in the
place of origin see an increase in their responsibilities. In this realm of migration female
kin social networks play a crucial role in maintaining the transnational household, by
means of regular communication between the family and the migrants. These networks
are also crucial in the transmission of knowledge. An example of this exchange of
knowledge is the transmission of equalitarian norms. However, changes in gender roles
in the Dominican Republic as a result from female migration to the Netherlands, remain
quite ambivalent. On the one hand, the fact of being a woman, together with the idea of
bringing income to their households, is helping women to become more independent

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from abusive boyfriends or husbands. On the other hand, the family also understands
the migration of their female kin as another strategy to fulfil their role as breadwinners
that to their understanding ought to be fulfilled by men. Thus, it seems a yet premature
to argue that female migration is bringing changes in gender issues that push towards an
equalitarian society, in particular in households of a matrifocal nature. The phenomenon
of transnational household in its present form is relative new an only made possible
through the increase of communication afforded through the wide spread application of
new technologies of communication in the last ten years. What impact of these new
transnational household on the society at large will be on the years to come has to be the
subject of more research. In addition the social networks and their internal
communication are the key for the migration itself. They help the migrant at every stage
of migration, from influencing the choice of the destination, to settling in the new
country and finding a job, as well as offering emotional and economical support.
However, it is also important to bear in mind the negative aspects of social networks,
such as the creation of a bad reputation for transnational households with a migrant
working in the sex sector. Furthermore, the migrants all aimed to send money back
home in order to improve the living conditions of their children and other close
relatives. Although these remittances mean economical relief, it is important to consider
also their negative aspects such as creating dependence from family relatives in the
place of origin on the money sent by the migrants.


Further Research and Some Recommendations

Every year female migrants cross borders seeking work opportunities, increased
incomes or the possibility to start a better life for themselves and for their family.
Among migrant women, there is a considerable number that end up in sex work through
their own free will. Despite the high numbers of recruiters for the sex industry around
the world, who exploit the fact that there are thousands of women migrating as
household breadwinners and who end up in the sex industry, there is little attention in
the academic literature on the subject of female transnational migration related
volunteered sex work. This is even more the case in regard to the fact that these female
migrants are mothers, who sell sex labour in order to maintain their children and family
in the place of origin. For this reason I propose a future empirical field study, in both the
place of origin and the receiving country, on transitional motherhood related to sex
work. In addition to this, and given the context of the female transnational migration
explained in this thesis, I also consider it of great importance to look at the role, beliefs
and attitudes of men in a matrifocal system.

Moreover, giving that part of my investigation has been based in the areas of the Red
Light District of Amsterdam, together with the work I have been carrying out with Casa
Migrante in the MEP project, I have become aware of the current changes that the area
is going through. Some new policies have recently been put in place by the local
council, which aim at transforming the Red Light District through the closing down of
some of the work places (i.e. windows) where these women work from. These windows,
which are well known for displaying sex workers, are now being replaced by display
stands for the work of young artists. In light of this I have, together with two fellow
researchers decided on developing a new investigation proposal. This is based on
studying the consequences of the transformation of the Red Light District of
Amsterdam, in order to research what the implications are for the sex workers. On the
one hand, we propose to investigate which other paths these displaced sex workers have

                                             93
found to earn an income for themselves. On the other hand we aim to research if this
new situation is creating an invisibility of the sex sector in Amsterdam, thereby making
the task of monitoring mafias of human trafficking more problematic.

From the lessons learnt from the research for this thesis and as a remark aimed at
recommendations for the future, I would like argue for the implementation of supportive
migration policies, instead of policies that in an implicit or explicit manner try to inhibit
migration flows. This does not apply to all types of migration, since some are of an
exploitative nature. Ideally the goal should be to give alternatives, i.e. the creation of
suitable jobs for livelihood strategies in the place of origin. However, where there is not
job creation of jobs in the place of origin and when migration is not forced by a mafia
and is not of an exploitative manner, the receiving countries should offer the right of
access to education and health, which seem to be crucial for the wellbeing of the
migrant, regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented migrants. In
regard to the place of origin, the state should be more aware of the migration situation.
For example in the case of Juan de Herrera, on the one hand the majority of the locals
interviewed in the research remarked that migration is a key livelihood strategy for a
very high percentage of households of the village. On the other hand in conversations
with Juan de Herrera’s council members, migration never came across as a
characteristic of the area. This could mean that they are either not aware of the current
flows of migration in their village, or that they are aware but that the subject is avoided,
since they might not have the tools to take any action in this situation. From my
perspective as a researcher, I would say that the ideal solution for this village would in
the first place to include more women in the public sphere, on an equal basis to their
male counterparts. This could lead to the women’s point of view being heard,
understanding their needs related to livelihood, along with the boundaries imposed on
their aspirations. Second, the creation of a consistent employment bureau with equal
opportunities for men and women would be an asset. But perhaps most importantly and
immediately the creation of a micro credit scheme for innovative and consistent long
term business initiatives would be a positive feature.


Final Remarks

Through the results of this investigation I have been given the tools to hopefully
contribute to the knowledge that female migration related to sex work exists in
Dominican Republic as its evidence in the case of Juan de Herrera. The council of Juan
de Herrera, express an interest to receive a copy of my final thesis. In addition to this,
FLACSO and the Dutch Consulate in the Dominican Republic also expressed their
desire in having a copy of this thesis, and I am honoured by the interest shown.
Moreover, I hope to be able to contribute to the work carried out by Casa Migrante
(Amsterdam) with my thesis. This research has also become a part of my work as a
virtual intern with UN-INSTRAW, within the department of Gender and Remittances,
and I look forward to seeing the results of this research used on a wider scale. Finally, I
aim to write about and translate some issues that have been explored in the thesis into
Spanish, in order to have them published in relevant magazines and journals.




                                             94
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  93
       United Nation International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.
  94
       United Nation Development Programme.

                                                     100
      Appendix I: Relation of the five cases studied: Female Migrant      Household
                                                &
                  Table with the main characteristics of the five female migrants

        Female Migrant in Amsterdam or Spain                                         Dominican Republic
                                                         Jacinta (35 years old) (sister of the migrant and currently in charge of the
                                                         migrant’s children)
Emma (25 years old)
                                                         Lucía (65 years old) (mother, used to taked care of the children)
                                                         Jarisa (12 years old), Maria (11 years old), Luigi (5 years old) (children of
                                                         the migrant)
                                                         Laura (21 years old) (daughter of the migrant)
                                                         Prima (56 years old) (sister of the migrant and in charged of Isabel’s son,
Isabel (40 years old)
                                                         Oliver)
                                                         Soraya (31 years old) (sister of the migrant and in charged of Isabel’s son,
                                                         Oliver)
                                                         Oliver (14 years old) (son of the migrant)
                                                         Eugenia (+80 years old) (mother of the migrant and in charge of the
                                                         migrant’s sons)
Viviana* (47 years old)
                                                         Manuel(26 years old) (son of the migrant)
                                                         Alberto(25 years old) (son of the migrant)
                                                         Rita (55 years old) (mother of the migrant)
                                                         Children (3 teenagers and a baby)
Rosario * (36 years old)
                                                         Mary (44 years old) (sister of the migrant and in charge of Juanito, Nieves’s
                                                         son)
Nieves ** (Spain) (40 years old)
                                                         Juanito (17 years old) (son the migrant)
                                                         Ramiro (mid 40s) (father of the migrant’s daughter, Rociela)
                                                         Ramona (mid 40s) (wife of Ramiro and in charged of Rociela)
                                                         Rociela (12 years old) (daughter of the migrant)

      *Viviana did not want to participate in the research, nevertheless her family in Dominican Republic did,
      therefore they provided with the general information to fulfil the research. The way I found her family
      was through Olinda (60 years old) (working with her together in Casa Migrante). Olinda is Viviana’s
      sister. So Olinda offered me the contact of her family in the Dominican Republic and her niece Rosario ,
      in Amsterdam. In this family the first one to migrate was Olinda, she helped Viviana to come, then Olinda
      & Viviana helped Rosario .

      **The case of Nieves was found through snowball process in the Dominican Republic, this case is in my
      research since it is replacing a case that was never formalised, thus failed. The only main difference with
      the case of Nieves is that she is based in Spain

      Other individual that participate in these 5 cases studied:

      Lidia (60 years old): She is a Dominican women migrant living in Amsterdam for more than 20 years.
      She is Emma’s aunt.

      Serena (30 years old): She is a Dominican women migrant living in Amsterdam for 7 years. Her mother
      is Lidia. Thus, she is Emma’s cousin.

      Vecina (60 years old): She is a Dominican women migrant living in Amsterdam fro more than 15 years.
      She is Lidia and Serena’s neighbour.




                                                         101
                          Emma                       Isabel                   Viviana *                 Rosario *                   Nieves**
Age                        25                          40                        47                        35                          40

Marital Status           Divorced              Divorced form a                  Single             Divorced. Now with           Together with a
                                            Dominican man. Now                                     a Surinam man in the        Dominican man in
                                            in relationship with a                                 Netherlands. Rosario       Spain. He is not the
                                            Dutch man, trying to                                     takes care of his 2    fathers of her Children.
                                             get married for love                                           kids.               Children from 2
                                              and legalisation of                                                                different men.
                                                     Isabel
Status               Illegal: No papers     Illegal; But papers in               Legal                     Legal              Legal now in Spain.
                                                    process
N. of Children                 3                       2                           2                         4                          2
N. of Children in              3                       2                           2                         4                          2
DR
N. of Children in              0                       0                           0                         0                          0
host country
Age of children      The 3 of them are           Daughter: 21             Over age: 25 & 26         The 4 of them are               Son: 17
                    under age: 6, 10, 12           Son: 14                                         under age: baby, 14,           Daughter: 12
                                                                                                          15, 16
Person who takes    Her sister (before it      Her sister and niece           Her mother               Her mother            Her sister takes care of
care of her         was her mother, up         take care of her son                                                          her son; and the father
children            until she got sick)      (they both leave in the                                                        her daughter and mainly
                                                 same household)                                                            his wife take care of her
                                                Her daughter is an                                                                  daughter.
                                              adult, so she lives on
                                                     her own.
Main Composition    There are mainly 2:        There are mainly 2:        Her mother’s where        Her mother’s, who        Her sister’s where her
of family           Her sister who takes    Her sister’s and niece’s     her sons live, and her      takes care of her      son lives. Main relatives
household in the    care of her children.     who take care of her         other sister gather       children, and her      are her sisters, brothers.
DR                   And her mother’s,          son. And a family         together. Her main       grandmother’s house,
                      where everyone             household in the        relatives are mother,        where everyone
                    gathers around. The       country side with the      sisters, nephews and      gathers together. Her
                     main relatives are     rest of sister and aunts.            nieces.            main relative in the
                      women (mother,         The main relatives are                                 DR are her mother,
                        sisters and 2       sisters, niece, aunts and                                sisters, aunts and
                      brothers and her        her daughter and son.                                       children
                          children)
Years abroad                  3                        4                           15                       7                          4
Current Job           Informal Sector:         Informal sector:                    ???                ¿?¿? Cleaning         Taking care of Elderly in
                    Domestic worker &       Hairdresser, domestic                                                            a residence of elderly.
                     garment industry          work & knitting
Job in the DR       Office Job (instable)   Owner of hairdresser                 None               Informal Sector only      Taking care of elderly
                                                     Salon                                                sometimes                   people.
Education                 College                   School                      School                      School                   College
Place of Origin       Santo Domingo            Santo Domingo                Santo Domingo              Santo Domingo                 Santiago
Future intentions   Legalise and bring      Legalise, get married         Stay in Amsterdam          Stay in Amsterdam,      Stay in Spain. Bring her
                    her children. Try to    with her boyfriend and                                  build a house for her     older son, she want to
                     legalise paper in         maybe bring the                                      mother and bring her      bring her daughter but
                          Spain.                youngest son.                                           children to the     father of girl do not want
                                                                                                         Netherlands.
Reason to Migrate   Economic: Better        Economic,      business     Economic                   Economic; looking        Economic: Better life for
                    life for her children   was not giving enough                                  for a job to raise her   her children
                                            to survive. Want a                                     children
                                            better life for her
                                            children
Sacrifices          Leave her children      Leave her children          Leave her children         Leave her children       Leave her children
Via                 Organise Tryp to        San           Martin        Straight to Amsterdam,     Labour       contract,   Labour contract
                    Jerusalen. But Stop     Netherlands Spain           Family Reunification       Although she didn’t
                    in Paris, police                                                               like the conditions,
                    found her. And the                                                             she stayed.
                    Netherlands.
Process             Tourist Visa to a       Tourist Visa to San         Sister claimed her as      Her aunt and sister in   A friend of her in Spain
                    organise Tryp. Stay     Martin     Tourist Visa     her daughter. Her sister   Amsterdam helped         found a job for her. Send
                    in Europe.              to Netherlands              had a daughter who         her to get a contract    contract. Visa accepted.
                                                                        died in DR but this        and the money to
                                                                        dead was not register.     travel.
Why the             Why not!                Because her boyfriend       Because her sister was     Because of her aunt      It was Spain, because
Netherlands                                 is Dutch                    there.                     and sister               she had her friend there.




                                                                        102
Appendix II: List of Interviewers and informants for the case of Juan de Herrera

 - Interviews with relatives of female migrants and female migrant returnees:

      Marta (she has a daughter in the Netherlands, and sons and other daughters in
          Spain)
      Julia (she has a daughter in the Netherlands)
      Roberta(her daughters are in the Netherlands)
      Paulina (her daughter and sons are in the Netherlands)
      Elisa (she has her mother and two sisters the Netherlands)
      Ana (her sister is in the Netherlands)
      Carmen (her sister is in the Netherlands)
      Dilania (her sister is in the Netherlands)
      Sara (her sister is in the Netherlands)
      Luisa (she is a returnee from the Netherlands)
      Flores (she has sisters in the Netherlands and she is a returnee from the
          Netherlands)
      Agustin (his wife is in the Netherlands & Spain)
      Braulio (he has his mother in the Netherlands)
      Niño (his mother is the Netherlands)

 - Other informants:

      Informal conversations with locals from Juan de Herrera
      Member of the council.
      Member of the firemen group.
      Two women from Juan de Herrera working as sex workers in Amsterdam




                                       103
Appendix III: Map of Juan de Herrera with households with a close female member
abroad.




           Households with a family member in the Netherlands
           Households with a family member in Spain
           Households with a family member in Germany




                                      104
Map of Caño Fistol (a suburb of Juan de Herrera) with households of families with
a close female migrants abroad marked.




         Households with a family member in the Netherlands
         Households with a family member in Spain
         Households with a family member in Germany




                                       105
Appendix IV: Map of the Dominican Republic




                                    106
Appendix V: Interview questions (translated from Spanish into English) with
Dominicans in Amsterdam

Personal Data:
 1. Age
 2. Arrival Date
 3. Place of Origen
 4. Status legal or illegal
 5. Family in Amsterdam
 6. Family in the Dominican Republic
 7. Children
 8. Level of education:
                    i. Illiterate
                   ii. Primary School
                  iii. Secondary School
                  iv. University
 9. Languages
 10. Where do you live in Amsterdam?
 11. Neighbours: (Dutch / Latin American / Other)
 12. Who do you live with?

Level of Insertion into the Dutch society:
 13. Employment:
                      i. No (Go to next question)
                     ii. YES:
                            1. Legal
                            2. Illegal
                            3. Dutch company/ own/ Latin America
                            4. Satisfaction with the job:
                                    a. Yes (good in the Dutch context)
                                    b. No (Sub-employment conditions)
 14. Economic Situation in the Netherlands(Let them chose, their own criteria)
                      i. Good
                     ii. Normal
                   iii. Poor/Bad
                    iv. Extremely poor
 15. Any economic help from:
                      i. Dutch Government
                     ii. DR Government
                   iii. Friends/family in Amsterdam
                    iv. Friends/family in DR.

Migration
 16. What were the reasons to migrate?
 17. What was the situation back in your country that made you migrate?
 18. Why did you choose the Netherlands / Amsterdam?
 19. What have you sacrificed with this migration?
 20. What has migration mean for you has a women?
                    i. Do you think is different from men’s migration experience?
 21. How did you organise your travel?
 22. How did you get in the country?
                    i. Tourism Visa
                   ii. Short Term labour contract
                  iii. Marriage
                  iv. Family Reunification
 23. Do you think your migration is being positive or negative to your life?
 24. Where do you feel at home?
 25. What do you think your family think about you migrating?


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Social Networks
  26. Do you have social life (going out, meeting people) from the DR?
  27. Did anyone help you to migrate from the Netherlands?
  28. Did you have some contacts before you came to the Netherlands?
  29. When you came to the Netherlands, who help you to do it?
                     i. People in the DR
                    ii. Other migrants in Amsterdam
                  iii. Different
  30. How often do you communicate with your family? Friends?
                     i. Daily
                    ii. Weekly
                  iii. Monthly
                   iv. A few times per year
  31. With who do you maintain the strongest relationship in DR when your are here in
      Amsterdam?
  32. With who do you communicate the most?
  33. How do you communicate?
                     i. Email
                    ii. Telephone
                  iii. Other

Remittances:
       Economic Remittances:
 34. Do you send remittances: money or other goods?
                    i. No (go to the next section: social remittances)
                   ii. Yes
 35. What percentage of your salary do you send?
 36. How often?
 37. To who do you send it to?
 38. What is the use of the money and goods you send?
 39. Do you control how to spent or use the money or goods you sent?
 40. Does your family know how you get the money you send them?

       Social Remittances
 41.   Have you notice any changes in your family since you left?
 42.   When you communicate with your family, what issues do you talk about?
 43.   What things or action make you connected to your family? Ie: sending remittances
 44.   Have you or any member of your family suffer from domestic violence?
         If yes:
                     i. How do you deal with that?
                    ii. What you think about it, now you live in here?
 45.   Do you encourage other people in the DR to migrate?




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Appendix VI: Interview questions (translated from Spanish into English) with
            Families in Dominican Republic

Personal Data’:
   1. Relation with the migrant
   2. Edad
   3. Education
   4. Trabajo actual
   5. Where do you live?
   6. For how long have you been living in …. ?
   7. Who do you live with?
   8. For how long have live with them?

Migration:
   9. Reasons of migration in your country
   10. Reasons of migration of your…..(female migrant).
   11. How was the migration organised (use of social networks)?
           a. Children
           b. House
           c. Work
           d. Money
   12. What does migration means for women in your country?
   13. And for men?
   14. How is the life of you and your family without the female migrant?
   15. How is your female migrant seen in your family?
           a. Dual reputation & Conflicting Status
   16. How does the migration of your…. Affected you?
           a. Emotionally
           b. Practically
   17. Do you know is she wants to come back, or what do you think?

Remittances:
       Economic remittances:
   18. Do you receive economic remittances?
   19. How often?
   20. Use
   21. What changes are remittances producing?
   22. Do you know how the migrant get the money they sent?
   23. Who receive the money?
   24. Why?
   25. Who administers the money?
   26. Why?

         Social Remittances
   27.   How often do you communicate with the migrants?
   28.   How do you do it?
   29.   Who inicite the communication?
   30.   What do you talk about?
   31.   Changes in gender norms & relationship between women and men?
   32.   Domestic Violence ?
   33.   Is producing the migration of your…... expectations of future plans?
              a. Migrating?
              b. Migration of other in the family
              c. Why?

Transnational Motherhood (if the interviewer is in charged of the children of the migrant)
   34. If the interviewer receives remittances. Do you receive money from the migrant for the
       maintenance of her ast are?
   35. If yes: What is the use of this money?
   36. Do you think is enough for the maintenance?
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             a. If not, What do you do?
   37. Does she speak with the her children?
       If yes
             a. How often?
             b. By telephone, letter, email?
             c. What do they normally talk about (if you know)?
   38. How do you think she is bringing up her ast are?
   39. Does she know what her children do in a normal day?
   40. Does she about their education?
   41. …their diet?
   42. … their sizes, meaning how much they are physically growing?
   43. How do you feel in charge of these children?
   44. Are there things that have change since you take care of them?
   45. Who is doing the role of mother?
   46. Do the children respect your decisions?
   47. Do the children respect her decisions?
   48. Do you tell them off?
       If yes
             a. How do you feel when you have to do it?
             b. How do they respond?
   49. Does the migrant tell them off?
          If yes
             a. How do you feel about it?
             b. How do the children react?
             c. How does she know what they have done is wrong?
   50. Do you feel more work with them?
   51. More responsabilities?
   52. Do you get a salary for taking care of them?
   53. Why do you take the responsibility of these children?

Short interview with the Children:
Very open interview, but only when possible and with permission. Topics to cover:
   • How do you feel about your mum being away?
   • Do you know where she is?
   • Do you know why she travel to the Netherlands?
   • Do you miss her?
   • Do you want her to come back or do you prefer to go?
   • Does your mum send you things, like present…clothes,toys, money, school material?
   • Does your mum know what you do during the day?
   • Does your mum know when you don not behave properly?
   • Do you talk to her?
                If yes
   • What things does she ask you, and tell you, what things do you tell her?




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Appendix VII: Original Quotations.

     1. “Yo trabajaba como una esclava para poco, hacia un poco de todo para salir
        adelante: limpiaba casas, cosía, a veces ayudaba en una peluquería…y así
        casi no me llegaba a final de mes, yo tenía que dar a los niños de comer,
        vestirles, los gastos del colegio, la casa…etc., ¡no me llegaba!” (Rosario , 36
        year old migrant).

     2. “Yo me he ido de mi país con la idea de dar a mis hijos una         ast vida”
        (Nieves, 40 year old migrant).


     3. “espero que mis hijos tengan lo que yo no he podido tener, yo no quiero que
        ellos pasen por lo que yo he pasado…” (Emma, 25 year old, migrant).


     4. “yo me fui de mi país para darles un ast estado de vida a mis hijos, es lo
        que me da la fuerza para seguir luchando, sino no me importaría quedarme en
        Santo Domingo […] En los años que llevo fuera he podido dar a mis hijos de
        comer, de vestirse y ast ar al colegio.” (Isabel, 40 year old migrant).


     5. “El hecho de que mi hermana este en Europa, es como una ast area para la
        familia, ya que significa que nuestra familia va para arriba. Con cualquier
        cosa que pase por aquí, ella nos puede ayudar ast desde allí, porque todo el
        que se va a otro país es para ayudar a la familia.” (Mary, 44 years old, sister
        of Nieves – migrant-).


     6. “… yo tengo ganas de irme, estoy viendo que a mi hermana le va bien, y gana
        su dinerito y tiene su libertad e independencia […] su hija mayor está
        planeando en un futuro irse para allá también.” (Prima, 56 years old, sister of
        Isabel – migrant -)


     7. “Me sentía muy insegura por la responsabilidad de ast a sus hijos, sobre
        todo si ella no ast mandar dinero” (Luisa, 65 years old, mother of Emma
        migrant)


     8. “Yo a mi hermana la veo más distante, pone más distancia con los hombres de
        aquí, […] porque hay otra cultura por el medio, ha aprendido a no estar tan
        sometida al hombre […] Ella siempre me cuenta lo diferente que son los
        hombres en España, son menos machistas que el Dominicano, el hombre
        español es más respetuoso…. Dice que respeta más a la mujer. ast ar es que
        yo me quiero casar con un hombre Español…” (Mary, 44 years old, sister of
        Nieves–migrant-)


     9. “Realmente en mi país los hombres no se preocupan por sus hijos, las mujeres
        tenemos toda la responsabilidad de todo, así es que somos nosotras las que
        ahora tenemos también que emigrar para dar de comer a nuestros hijos.”
        (Isabel, 40 year old, migrant)



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10. “Las mujeres de mi país son las que nos vamos fuera, porque los hombres de
    mi país no se preocupan de sus hijos. Nosotras, las mujeres somos las que
    tenemos la responsabilidad de todo.” (Luisa, 65 year old, mother of Emma –
    migrant-)


11. “Si no hubiera tenido hijos, creo que no lo hubiera hecho. Las madres somos
    las que nos preocupamos por los hijos. El hombre Dominicano se
    despreocupa de sus hijos…” (Emma, 25 year old, migrant)


12. “… darles un ast estado de vida a mis hijos, es lo que me da la fuerza para
    seguir luchando, sino, no me importaría quedarme en Santo Domingo.”
    (Isabel, 40 year old, migrant)


13. “Yo creo que por ser mujer me han ayudado más, cuando son hombres los
    inmigrantes, la gente les tiene mas miedo.” (Luisa, 60 year old, migrant)


14. “A mí, ya me han ofrecido varias veces ir de acompañante (escort), al
    principio no entendía nada, hasta que mi amiga dominicana me explico…”
    (Emma, 25 year old, migrant)


15. “Yo de diario hablo con mi mama, y con mis hijos, ¡a veces hasta llamo dos
    veces…!” (Rosario , 36 year old, migrant)


16. “Si yo quiero salir a bailar o dar un paseo con amigos, como a un concierto
    por la noche, la he de llamar para pedirla permiso. Aunque mi padre que esta
    aquí y me autorice, para mi quien manda es mi madre. Primero me pregunta
    con quien voy, que amigos son. Y si me ast ir, al día siguiente siempre llama
    para preguntarme como fue todo.” (Juanito, 17 years old, son of Nieves –
    migrant-).


17. “Rompiéndome el corazón de pena, por teléfono siendo muy fuerte,
    regañándoles cuando lo necesitan y dándoles explicaciones de todo.” (Isabel,
    40 year old, migrant)


18. “Yo hablo con ellos y les explico como es la vida aquí, que cuando vengan va
    a ver otras formas de vida […] el teléfono es muy importante para mi, para
    poder estar en relación con ellos.” (Nieves, 40 year old migrant)


19. “Mi hermana y mi mama están criando a mis hijos, yo estoy tranquila por que
    son ellas, y mi me criaron bien…y luego estoy yo… cuando hablo con ellos
    por teléfono…y les regaño si es necesario, para que no me pierdan el respecto
    de hijos a madres.” (Emma, 25 year old migrant)


20. “Cuando yo me iba a ir de Santo Domingo mi hermana me dijo: “es muy
    duro vivir en la Republica Dominicana… ser madre soltera y dar de comer a
                                   112
   los hijos.” (Isabel, 40 year old migrant)


21. “Mando casi la mitad de lo que gano aquí, lo mando cada 15 días, cuando
    mi madre cuidaba de mis hijos se lo mandaba a ella. Ahora que mi madre se
    ha puesto un poco enferma, los niños están con mi hermana, así que le mando
    el dinero a ella. Ellas son siempre las que lo ast areas t, yo solo le digo,
    que de lo que mando, coja un poco cada vez para pagar mi deuda en el
    banco.” (Emma, 25 year old migrant)


22. “… yo mando la plata cada mes, cada vez que cobro le mando el dinero a mi
    familia, se lo mando a mi mama, y ella ya lo administra.” (Rosario , 36 year
    old migrant)


23. “… yo tengo unas primas en Santo Domingo, que a pesar de que no
    mantenemos una comunicación muy continua, ellas siempre cuentan conmigo
    si se ponen malas […] Una de ellas la tuvieron que operar de la mano hace un
    mes, y como no se atrevía a hacérselo en el hospital, me pedio unos pesos
      ast ar al privado y yo se lo mande de una vez…para eso esta la
    familia…además ellas me cuidaron una temporada cuando yo era chica y mi
    madre estaba aquí (en Ámsterdam.)” (Sisi, 30 year old migrant)


24. “Ahora me ha dicho mi hermana que han echado a mi hijo pequeño del
    colegio, así que he tenido que mandar un dinero extra para registradlo en otro
    colegio que esta más lejos de donde viven,…, y además ahora habrá que
    pagar el autobús…” (Emma, 25 year old migrant)


25. “Ellos piensan que la vida aquí es mucho más fácil y que el dinero cae de los
    árboles, pero eso no es cierto. Sobre todo si estás ast ar como yo, que hay
    que hacer lo imposible para mandar el dinero mensual para los
    niños.”(Emma, 25 year old migrant)


26. “Cuando mi ex-marido se entero que estaba en Holanda, le quito el niño (hijo
    en común) a mi madre, así que tuve que empezar a mandarle dinero para la
    manutención del niño, pero luego mis hermanas me contaron que él andaba
    todo el día bebiendo con el dinero que mandaba y tenia al niño a base de agua
    con azúcar…” “Hubo unos meses que tuve que dejar a los niños con mi
    hermano […] las cosas no salieron bien, él se gastaba toda la plata que
    mandaba en drogas y mis hermanas tenían que llevar comida a los niños.”
    (Emma, 25 year old migrant)


27. “yo dependo del dinero que manda mi hija hasta para comprar el pan. Lo
    primero son los gastos de los niños […] si sobra algo a final de mes, intento
    ahorrarlo para poder comprar una casa propia… para la familia.” (Rita, 55
    year old mother of woman migrant, taking care of the migrant’s children)


28. “Con lo que yo gano aquí y lo que mi hermana envía para los niños, he
    podido reunir para comprar una lavadora…lo cual me quita mucho trabajo
                                     113
   con cuatro niños…” (Jacinta, 35 year old sister of Emma –a female migrant,
   taking care of the migrant’s children)


29. “Mi mama sabe que yo estoy trabajando a tiempo complete aquí, así que
    cuando ella no tenia dinero para mandar a mi hermanito, yo fui a casa de mi
    tía (donde vive mi hermanito) y la di parte de mi salario para la manutención
    del chico…yo intento ayudar a mi madre en lo que se pueda…también la
    intento hacer diligencias de papeles que necesita y cosas así…” (Laura, eldest
    daughter of Isabel, a migrant)


30. “Juan de Herrera se conoce como la “Colonia Holandesa”, donde a las
    mujeres las llamamos las viajeras, porque se van a trabajar a Holanda y ast
    a el dinero para ast area una casa aquí” (A local old man from Juan de
    Herrera)


31. “Aquí somos pobres, y allí la mujer puede conseguir que su familia de aquí
    viva un poco ast … No lo hacen por ellas, pero por su familia.” (Marta,
    mother of a female migrant in the Netherlands)


32. “Hace unos años, la vida de aquí no era mas que agricultura, así que se dio
    la migración. Así mi hermana decidió irse por sus hijos.” (Ana, sister of a
    female migrant)


33. “En Juan de Herrera, no hay recursos, ast ar se marcharon mis hermanas
    para Holanda.” (Sara, sister of a female migrant in the Netherlands)


34. “En Juan de Herrera hay poco trabajo, y menos para un amejor con
    hijos”(Elisa, whose mother and older sisters are in the Netherlands0


35. “Yo no me puedo ir, porque tengo una hija y dos nietos, y ella no tiene esposo,
    así que tengo que ayudarla. Pero yo la animo a ella a irse, y así me puede
    ayudar a mi después, como construyéndome una casa nueva para la familia.”
    (Sara, sister of a female migrant in Amsterdam)



36. “Hay tantas mujeres que se van porque antes siempre han estado muy
    sometidas al hombre, y ahora la mujer quiere salir y liberarse.” (Dilania,
    sister of a female migrant in the Netherlands)

37. “Yo como lo veo es que una vez que se fue, realmente ya no le importa sus
    hijos, solo le va la mente para prostituirse y ganar dinero. Especialmente
    gente de este pueblo, si no tienes dinero no eres nada. Si te construyes una
    casa, luego quieres una ast […]Ella esta metida en la prostitución, porque
    yo he hecho cuentas de las cantidades de dinero que gana … y además todas
    las que viajan de aquí son para eso[…]Así que no quiero que consiga los
    papeles de residencia definitivos, porque una vez que los tenga no va a parar
    viajar[…]Tener una mujer por ahí, es como no tener mujer. Así que a nuestras
                                    114
   hijas ahora las cuida su abuela ast are, porque es lo   ast   ast are niñas.”
   (Agustin, husband of a female migrant)


38. “Mi hija se fue a Holanda porque todos de por aquí se van para allá.”
    (Paulina, mother of a female migrant in the Netherlands)


39. “Poque había una cuñada que ya estaba allí, la cual ayudó a mi hija.”
    (Paulina, mother of female migrant in the Netherlands)


40. “Mi hermana fue a Holanda porque tenia una tía allí. Ella la facilito los
    documentos necesarios y la encontró un hombre con el que mi hermana se
    caso” (Carmen, sister of a female migrant in Amsterdam)


41. “Mis hijas se fueron a Holanda porque tenían una compañera de estudios que
    tenia una amiga en Holanda, así es como se fueron”(Roberta, mother of
    female migrants in the Netherlands)


42. “La hermanastra de mi hermana fue el contacto de mi hermana, la
    hermanastra ya llevaba allí unos anos. Ella la ayudo con los papeles y todo
    los demás, también la pago el ticket. Al llegar la ofreció su casa para
    quedarse y la ayudo a buscar trabajo para que así le pudiera devolver el
    dinero que la presto para el billete.” (Dilania, sister of a migrant in the
    Netherlands)


43. “Mi hermana se fue ayudada por una amiga suya hace 16 anos. Más tarde
    esta hermana mayor ayudó a mi otra hermana, luego las dos ya allí se levaron
    a mi mama, y ahora yo estoy ast are los papeles para irme.”(Elisa, whose
    mother and two older sisters are in the Netherlands)


44. “Me he quedado sola con mis hermanos varones, me toca hacer todo para
    ellos. Pero además no puedo compartir ast areas con mis hermanas, ya que
    están en Holanda.” (Elisa, whose mother and two sisters are in the
    Netherlands)


45. “Cuando mi hermana se decidió ir, mi madre y yo nos encargamos de cuidar
    a su hijo.” (Sara, sister of female migrant in the Netherlands)


46. “Yo me encargo de administrar el dinero, ya que soy yo la que cuido de los
    ninos.” (Ana, sister of a migrant in Amsterdam)


47. “Yo he criado a mis hijas, a mis nietos… y ahora a mis bisnietos” (Julia,
    mother of two female migrants)


48. “Cuando se fue mi hermana en los 80s no había para llamarnos, había que ir
                                   115
   a la ciudad de al lado, para un teléfono que había. Así que cuando
   hablábamos salía muy caro, y había poco tiempo para hablar, ella no tenia
   tiempo para contarme. Ella tenia que escuchar las noticias que yo le contaba
   de sus hijos y de nuestra mama. Y fíjate ahora como han cambiado las cosas,
   ya hay móviles por todos los lados. (Ana, sister of female migrants in
   Amsterdam)


49. “Yo lo de mi mujer ¡no lo veo bien! Ella me dice que esta trabajando en un
    comedor, eso es lo que dicen todas. ¡Pero yo no lo creo! Lo que yo creo es que
    esta trabajando en la prostitución.”(Agustin, husband of a female migrant in
    Amsterdam)


50. “Pues…no se que decirte…No se de que trabaja” (Ana, her daughter is in the
    Netherlands)


51. “Yo no lo se.” (Sara, her sisters are in the Netherlands)


52. “…mmmhhh…en un comedor” .”(Flores, returnee from the Netherlands and
    has two sister migrants)


53. “Mi madre se caso…pero…mis hermanas no se de que trabajan….mmmm…en
    un comedor ¡creo!” (Elisa, whose mother and two sisters are in the
    Netherlands)


54. “Pues…, no lo se…creo que en un comedor.” (Marta, mother of a female
    migrant in the Netherlands)




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Appendix VIII: Photo Gallery

I) Typical interview settings.




II) My husband entertaining a male household member, while I was carrying out an interview
with a female member of the household.




III) The Dutch embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.




                                            117
IV) Entrance to the main Western Union/Vimenca in Santo Domingo.




V) Western Union/Vimenca in a rural setting.




VI) Public transport




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VII) Some examples of Dutch influences in Juan de Herrera brought by migrants.




VIII) Noticeable differences in the houses with or without remittances from migrants abroad.




                                             119