Home is where the hurt is
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Home is where the hurt is book
Charie, who was rescued by the Philippines Embassy in Seoul from a club in TDC just after I commenced my fi eldwork in Korea, made this comment when we met again a few months after her return to the Philippines. As her remark suggests, home and homecoming were not occasions fi lled with promise, hopeful anticipation or happiness. Many of the women I came to know in Korea expressed similar sentiments. Home, which I understand as a multi-scalar construct encompassing nation, community and family, was rendered time and again as problematic – a site for the production of anxiety, shame, sadness and, in Charie’s words, “hurt”. The reason for this is startlingly simple: traffi cking, as a form of failed labour migration, produces moral responses at home because it deviates from dominant discourses about the fi nancially successful migrant worker cast as the new ‘hero’ of Philippines development and, additionally, for women, the sexually chaste migrant. This rendering, I argue, operates to compound – rather than diminish – the negative aspects of women’s experiences whilst in Korea. Thus, for Charie, coming home to Tarlac in Central Luzon was “just as hard” as being in a traffi cking situation in Korea, albeit for reasons that were not entirely the same. The ways the tropes of the sexually suspect (‘the prostitute’) and the fi nancially failed (‘the anti-hero’) migrant were invoked for women like Charie in the site of home, and the experiences and consequences of this are the subject of discussion in this chapter.