Manila, Jan 3 (IANS) A ban prohibiting Philippine domestic workers from travelling to Kuwait came into effect on Friday after one was killed by her employers in the Arab country.
The ban following Jeanelyn Villavende’s death exempts skilled workers or Filipinos who are already in Kuwait for work, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said in a statement announcing the ban.
“This should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met,” Bello warned Kuwait, where about 200,000 Filipinos currently live.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait reported that Villavende had been beaten repeatedly and was already dead when she was brought to the hospital.
The exact date of her death is unknown as the results of the autopsy were pending, but her employers have been arrested as the primary suspects in the case.
Bello said the government would also investigate the Philippine recruitment agency involved for its inaction, as Villaverde had reportedly asked to be repatriated in September, complaining of maltreatment and non-payment of the agreed salary.
Philippines had also imposed a ban on sending workers to Kuwait in February 2018, after the body of Joanna Demafelis, a 29-year old Filipino maid, was found in the freezer of her employers’ house, leading to a diplomatic standoff which was resolved a month later when the ban was lifted.
The killing of Villavende is the latest in a series of abuses faced by Filipino workers in the Middle East, the main destination for about 3,000 Filipinos who leave the country daily on temporary foreign work permits. The women tend to work as domestic workers while men are mostly employed in the construction sector.
About 10 million Filipinos are migrant workers overseas and their remittances account for more than 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.