19 February 2018

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Manila, abuse and violence: 'Total ban' on Filipino workers going to Kuwait

There are over 250 thousand Filipino workers in the Middle-Eastern country. Domestic workers are not covered by the Emirate’s labor laws. President Duterte al Kuwait: "Is there something wrong with your culture and your values?"

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Taking advantage of an amnesty program signed with the government of Kuwait, the Department for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines is organizing the repatriation of 10 thousand migrant workers from the emirates. This follows the "total ban" imposed two days ago by Manila on domestic labour migration to Kuwait, which includes migrants already in possession of work permits but who have not yet left for the Gulf country. Previously, President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed out against Kuwait for the frequent cases of abuse and exploitation to which Filipino workers are subject.

According to Foreign Ministry estimates, there are over 250 thousand Filipino workers in Kuwait, the majority of whom are employed in domestic service. However, domestic workers are not covered by ordinary labor law in the Emirates. Human rights activists have documented widespread abuse, including non-payment of wages, long working hours without days off, physical and sexual assaults and no clear channels of redress.

Last January, the Philippines government had suspended the sending of workers to Kuwait, after Duterte had declared that abuses by employers have prompted several domestic helpers to commit suicide. The new measure ordered by Manila follows the discovery, last week, of the body of 29 year-old Joanna Demafelis, a Filipina maid, in the freezer of an apartment in Kuwait. It is suspected that the body has been stored in the freezer for more than a year. On February 9, 2018, Duterte launched a harsh attack on the Middle East country. In a lively public discourse, he brandished the photograph of the young woman, denouncing the sexual abuse suffered by female workers, often also forced to feed on the waste of her employers. Addressing Kuwait, the president said: "Is there something wrong with your culture? Is there something wrong with your values? ".

Over 2.3 million Filipinos are registered as foreign workers. They send more than 1.6 billion euros home every month, money that feeds one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Manila now looks to China and Russia as "alternative markets" for Filipino migrant workers.

See also

22/01/2018 08:52:00 PHILIPPINES-KUWAIT
Duterte stops workers going to Kuwait over abuse, mistreatment

Seven Filipino workers died in mysterious circumstances. "Situation no longer acceptable". There are over 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, the majority of whom are employed in service industry. Over 2.3 million Filipinos are registered as foreign workers. They send more than 1.6 billion euros home every month.

13/11/2004 MIDDLE EAST
The difficult situation of domestic helpers in the Gulf
They are mostly Asian and Christian, abused, victims of violence and lacking in legal protection. Now their plight is on governments' agenda.

Christian Filipino migrants forced to convert to Islam
A Filipino nurse with ten years in Saudi Arabia talks about the dramatic situation of Christian workers, forced to embrace Islam just to keep their job. Despite abuses and violence, migrants still choose the Middle East because of the availability of work.

01/03/2016 13:14:00 UAE
Murder of domestic worker highlights plight of foreign workers in the Emirates

35 year-old “lady” tortured a native woman of the Comoros for months with bamboo sticks and electric wires. At trial pleads innocence, but neighbors confirm: she beat her continuously. Out of 42 million people in the Gulf there are 18 million migrant workers. At least 2.4 million reduced in slavery.

Kuala Lumpur: No minimum wage for foreign workers
The Malaysian government does not intend to adopt Indonesia’s proposal for a "minimum wage” for domestic workers in the country. At least 300 thousand foreign workers in Malaysia, subjected to violence and discrimination.

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