A Philippine government official has called on countries in the Middle East to abolish the kafala (sponsorship) system, as it makes foreign domestic workers prone to abuse.
Under the system, employers are required to sponsor their domestic workers for them to acquire a visa and work permit. Domestic workers are only allowed to leave their host country with the permission of their employers.
Bernand Olaila, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said the kafala system had been blamed for the exploitation of Filipino domestic workers in the Middle East, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
“Kafala is really wrong, and so we are looking at ways by which we could have it abolished,” Olaila said.
Critics say the system gives employers too much control over their workers, which makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Olaila said there had been too many horror stories about the mistreatment of overseas Filipino workers.
“Before, the story [was] of our OFWs being made to sleep on top of refrigerators. Today, they are now being stored inside refrigerators,” he said, referring to a notorious case of the body of a slain maid stuffed inside a freezer.