A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has called for the prosecution of anyone involved in the auction of Filipino maids by employers in Saudi Arabia, according to UCA news website.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, said “This is a crime that should be condemned and the perpetrators must be penalised with utmost rigor”.
Filipino human rights activist Senator Leila de Lima said the “auction of maids and Filipino female domestic workers” has been occurring for years in Saudi Arabia.
Bishop Santos said maids should not be treated as goods: “They are not a tool for profit or pleasure, they are human beings with rights and dignity,” he said.
According to UCA the Philippines government should immediately hold a diplomatic protest and facilitate the prosecution of those involved in these “shameful auctions”.
The Bishop said that this might be “the right time for the government to equally discuss and decide” whether it is necessary to ban the travel of Filipino female workers to Saudi Arabia.
Philippine Labour Minister Silvestre Bello said that Filipino female workers who are facing difficult working conditions in Saudi Arabia should seek better opportunities elsewhere or return to their country. He added that the government might have to prevent sending workers to Saudi Arabia if it cannot adopt a mechanism to ensure their safety.
Last year the Philippines government returned around 13,000 expatriates seeking employment in Saudi Arabia as part of a huge effort to repatriate Filipinos to their country.
Saudi Arabia is still a major destination for Filipino expatriates seeking employment. Last year one out of four, or 23.8 per cent of Filipino migrants, worked in Saudi Arabia.