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Brighter future ahead for OFW domestic workers in Saudi?

On January 27, 2012

Saudi Arabia has lifted the ban on domestic workers from the Philippines, which the Kingdom had imposed since since July. The ban followed the Philippines' demands for domestic worker protections, prompted by widespread discontent voiced by Filipino citizens and NGOs.

After months of negotiation, Saudi assented to these demands in an accord signed in Manilla. The agreement stipulated a minimum wage of $400//month, a weekly day off, holiday time totaling thirty days, and a free ticket for migrants to return to their home country. The accord also targets several of the most prevalent abuses, rendering it illegal to withhold maids' passports, to treat them poorly, or to force them to work in multiple households.

While legal protections for domestic workers is a significant achievement in the Gulf region, the effect of the agreement cannot be determined until Saudi's commitments are ratified in legislation and mechanisms of enforcement are implemented.