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Should the Philippines ban its citizens from working in the Gulf?
The majority of Kippreport readers believe domestic workers are ‘treated like slaves’.
February 14, 2010 1:28 by kippreport
The Philippines should ban its citizens from working in the Gulf due to the widespread abuse of domestic workers by local employers, according to a survey of Kippreport readers.
In a recent online poll, 44 percent of respondents said they agreed with a proposed ban on Filipinos coming to the Gulf because “domestic workers are treated like slaves and are subjected to abuse”. A third of respondents disagreed with a ban, saying that “the Mideast offers valuable employment opportunities for Filipinos”, while 23 percent said that the government “should not meddle in such matters”.
Last month a group of Philippine politicians called on the country’s government to ban domestic workers from going to the Middle East and Gulf states, according to a report in The National.
The politicians argue that domestic workers are being treated as modern-day slaves, and claim reforms introduced by the Philippine government in 2006 – which imposed a minimum salary of $400 a month for all Filipinos working abroad – do not go far enough to prevent abuse.
The Philippines is the second Asian country in recent months to call for barring domestic workers from going to the Middle East. In November, Indonesia’s manpower minister said Jakarta was to repatriate around 1,750 nationals working in Saudi, Kuwait and Jordan, and place a ban on its citizens working in these countries due to mistreatment.
And in August 2008, the Nepali government stopped granting work permits to women seeking work as housemaids in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, because of the abuse faced by them in those countries.
The number of domestic workers facing abuse in Saudi Arabia has been growing at an alarming rate. In 2008, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “As If I Am Not Human” detailing the problems faced by the 1.5 million domestic workers in the Kingdom. The report highlighted a range of abuses including “non-payment of salaries, forced confinement, food deprivation, excessive workload, and instances of severe psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.”
Ironically, authorities in Saudi Arabia recently proposed a ban on housemaids from certain Asian countries – not because they were subject to ill treatment, but because they claim the maids were themselves responsible for abuse. Authorities said housemaids coming from countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam are indifferent to the local culture and have been involved in “child murders and incidents of violence”, Kipp reported recently.