Unauthorized Migration among Rural Cambodian Women to Thailand: Methodological and Ethical Challenges during Field Research


This article describes the methodological and ethical challenges encountered during research in rural Cambodia with unauthorized female migrants who have returned to their community after working in Thailand. The aim of the research was to explore the lived experiences of the women during the various stages of migration. The research was conducted in four villages in a rural commune in Cambodia. Semi-structured and structured survey questionnaires were used to survey 15 purposively selected returnee female migrants aged 18–28 years who migrated to and were unauthorized migrants in Thailand for a minimum of 1 year, and key informants who were involved in migration policy development and programmes. Additionally, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 of the 15 women who were purposively selected. Researching vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations such as unauthorized migrants presents many methodological and ethical challenges. The research design and processes require careful preparation, vigilant planning and consideration for the human rights of unauthorized migrants while ensuring the highest standards of ethical conduct and respectful process.

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