Philippines not to send maids to Kuwait till death cases resolved

The Philippines has suspended sending women workers to Kuwait after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed outrage this week over rise in cases of abuse, suicide and murder of Filipinas there.

Over 250,000 Filipinos are currently working in the oil-rich kingdom where locals live in luxury and indolence and proudly say they do not know how to cook or do simple household chores. A majority of expats from the Philippines are women working as nannies and maids in Kuwaiti homes.

Duterte said abusive employers in Kuwait recently drove four Filipino domestic workers to suicide. The president said he wanted to raise the issue with Kuwaiti authorities and tell them such acts of abuse are unacceptable.

Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah expressed surprise over Duterte’s remarks. He said legal proceedings had already been taken in the cases of the four domestic workers mentioned by the president.

Philippines Labour Secretary Silvestre Belo, however, said his country will not send Filipina workers to Kuwait until the cases are resolved.

Earlier this month, the mortal remains of a Filipina who allegedly committed ‘suicide’ in Kuwait were returned to her home town. Her family said the body showed signs of abuse and that her organs were missing.

On January 25 last year, another Filipina, Amy Capulong Santiago, succumbed to assault injuries allegedly inflicted by her ‘arbab’ (sponsor/employer) in Farwaniya Hospital.

Four days later, the Philippines’ Ministry of Labour said it was planning to temporarily ban sending domestic workers to Kuwait. The immediate cause was the execution of a Filipina, Jakatia Pawa, who was accused of killing her sponsor’s daughter.

Since the 1980s, most of the cases involving Filipino domestic workers in the Gulf fell into a certain pattern. Job agencies targeted them, promising big salaries. But once they landed there, many with nannies’ visa were forced to work as maids in their sponsor’s home from 6 am to midnight.

Many employers and their friends raped them during parties and women and girls in households beat and scalded them if they failed to follow orders. Overworked, exhausted and abused, some of the Filipinas committed suicide or tried to run away.

As estimated 2.3 million Filipinos work abroad and their monthly remittances contribute substantially to the Philippines economy.