I was very saddened when I heard the news that Filipinos may be banned from entering Kuwait in the future because of the rise of torture cases against them in Kuwait. Filipinos have been in Kuwait for many years, and we Kuwaitis see and interact with them nearly on a daily basis – from waiters to teachers to nurses to engineers, accountants and so on. There is a population of approximately 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, according to the Philippines foreign ministry – 60 percent of them as domestic workers.
As a lawyer who works closely with pro-bono organizations and has worked with many Filipino clients, I have been receiving many questions on the legalities of the ban and the consequences that may arise in the future, so I have answered the questions below. One thing though that I want to make clear – I have seen cases of domestic workers and migrant workers in Kuwait being mistreated regardless of where they are from, and it has also been clear to me that those that are mistreating others also are from different countries and not just Kuwaitis!
The issue here is not where the person is from, but the laws and bylaws that I hope will improve in the future for Kuwait to be a better place. I also hope that the public awareness and respect necessary between society members will improve.
Question: As a Filipino who has been living in Kuwait all my life, will I be able to renew my residency in the future? I am worried that we will be banned from renewing our residencies.
Fajer: The news of the ban is not a law or bylaw, so we do not know what the consequences will be or if any bylaws will be issued in Kuwait. But from my understanding, there have not been any legal amendments in Kuwait currently and this decision is from the Philippines.
Question: I hear a lot about domestic violence or sexual harassment against domestic workers, and as a domestic worker myself, I would like to know what options I have should I ever be in such a situation.
Fajer: This question largely depends on the situation that you are in, but I would advise the following in general:
1. Always have a phone on you if possible. If not, know what options you have to communicate with the outside world available in the house.
2. Always have your embassy’s number on you, as well as the emergency numbers of the police and so on.
3. Be aware of your address/location.
I hope the above helped. If you have a concern, please email me at email@example.com
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed