Sister-in-law banned from working in Kuwait? That’s the question swirling around our household recently. My wife’s younger sister Marjorie (seen on the left) has been working as a domestic helper in Kuwait for over six years. Philippine President Duterte has called for a temporary ban on Overseas Filipino Workers, OFWs, to Kuwait.
Domestic Helpers Abused
Six or seven Filipino workers have died due to alleged abuse from their employers. Suicide was the cause of death for several domestic helpers.
Duterte claims the Philippines had “lost four women” in Kuwait, referring to domestic helpers he said had been abused and committed suicide.
The President said he was aware of many cases of sexual abuse against Filipino women and wanted to raise it with Kuwait and “state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore.”[i]
There is an estimated 250,000 OFWs in Kuwait, 75 percent of them working as domestic helpers.
Recall of present workers possible
President Duterte has also threatened to pull out all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait if one more incident of abuse against any of them should happen.
“One more incident about being a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I’m going to stop. I’m going to ban [deployment] there,” Duterte said.
The President goes on to say “they [the workers] have to endure rape, they have to endure starvation, and they get about only four hours [of rest] – that’s a universal story for all Filipinos.”
Duterte then called on Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries to treat OFWs as “human beings.”[ii]
Marjorie’s Kuwait Experiences
Marjorie has worked for four different employers during her time in Kuwait. Threatened with physical harm by a Filipina co-worker forced her to leave one employer. She’s been with her latest boss for several years now and hasn’t reported any major problems.
My sister-in-law, however, began her overseas work as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia. Forced to leave after less than a year on the job due to false accusations hurled by her boss’ jealous wife, she came back to the Philippines.
Marjorie worked as a domestic helper for us in Guimaras for a few months before finding employment in Kuwait. Her two children have been living with us since they were five and six years old. My sister-in-law sends 8,000 pesos a month, 160 US dollars, for her children’s college tuition and daily expenses.
My own asawa worked in Singapore and Taiwan for years before we were married. She worked for two straight years in Taiwan without one single day off. While this was in violation of her employment contract, my future wife never complained. She knew that if she did, another Filipina would immediately take her place.
The Kids are in College Now
Marjorie’s kids, nephew “Sherman” and niece Shaina are now in college. Shaina will be graduating in a couple of months with a teaching degree. Our niece has been student teaching for the past six weeks nearby but is due to finish her final six weeks of student teaching in Buena Vista, Guimaras, about 45 minutes from our home.
If Shaina can pass her Teacher’s Boards, which qualifies her for a public teacher’s position, she will be able to help with her brother Sherman’s college expenses.
If a proposed teacher’s salary increase by President Duterte goes through, she could possibly make as much as 30,000 pesos a month, almost 600 US dollars a month. Currently her mother, Marjorie, makes about a third of that in Kuwait.
Their father? No one has heard from him in years. A drug addict and drunkard, he abandoned his children years ago.
Our Domestic Helper Situation
Our domestic helper situation, as mentioned in my previous post, hasn’t improved and is extremely frustrating. A worker we had lined up came down with dengue fever and although she has been discharged from the hospital, needs time to recuperate and doesn’t have any plans to work now.
There is, however, a new lead, a domestic helper working for one of our relatives on the island, who is not very happy at her present position. The relative doesn’t give the household assistant a regular day off. We guarantee every Sunday off and we’re proposing a 500 peso monthly salary increase and will pay the woman 4,000 pesos a month, 80 US dollars.
That salary is double what the recommended monthly salary for a domestic worker in our region of the Philippines. The salary includes room and board. We do not have a mobile number for the possible new helper but she has expressed her desire to leave her present job with my wife. We should know whether or not she will accept our employment proposal within a couple of days.
Hopefully, she will.
[i] Karen Lema (2018 January 19) “Philippines halts sending workers to Kuwait over deaths, abuse” Retrieved from Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-kuwait-labour/philippines-halts-sending-workers-to-kuwait-over-deaths-abuse-idUSKBN1F80DT
[ii] Nestor Corrales (2018 January 24) “Duterte to Kuwait: If abuse of OFWs continues, we’ll pull them out.” Retrieved from Inquirer. Net. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/163593/rodrigo-duterte-ofws-abused-in-kuwait-repatriation