World

Duterte threatens Middle East work ban over maid abuse reports

MANILA:  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday threatened to ban hundreds of thousands of Filipinas from working as maids in the Middle East as he said domestic workers were being raped in Kuwait.

Over two million Filipinos, many of them maids, work in the region, propping up the Philippine economy with billions of dollars in remittances to families each year.

Last week, Mr Duterte barred Filipinos from seeking work in Kuwait over reports of abuse, exploitation and deaths, although the ban did not affect workers already there.

"One more incident about a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I am going to stop - I am going to ban Filipinos (from) working (there)," a visibly angry Mr Duterte said.

"Let me be blunt about this because Kuwait has always been an ally... Can I ask you now to treat my countrymen as human beings with dignity?" he added.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that Mr Duterte had reacted to a recent report on abuses in Kuwait. There were more than 200,000 Filipinos in Kuwait and many are stranded, paid less than what they were promised or abused, Mr Cayetano said.

An estimated 10 million Filipinos work overseas, with the oil-rich Middle East countries as key destinations.

Accounts of Filipinos being subjected to abuse, overwork, rape or dying in suspicious circumstances in the region have long circulated. - AFP

WORLD