Workers excluded from labour protections
In Kuwait, Jullebee Ranara, a 35-year-old maid from the Philippines, was raped, killed, burnt, and buried by the 17-year-old son of her Kuwaiti employers on 21 January 2023. Authorities identified and arrested the perpetrator within 24 hours of finding Ranara’s body, which was buried in the Al-Salmi desert. Autopsy reports revealed Ranara had been four months pregnant at the time of her murder. During interrogations, the perpetrator admitted he had sexually assaulted Jullebee, and murdered her when he found out that she was pregnant.
The killing sent shockwaves through Kuwait and across the Philippines, sparking calls for a deployment ban pending a review of bilateral labour agreements. On 8 February 2023, the Filipino government suspended the accreditation of new recruitment agencies in the Gulf country and stopped first-time workers from seeking employment in Kuwait.
That same week, another abuse case emerged, when another domestic worker from the Philippines was paralysed after jumping from a window to escape her abusive employer.
There were more than 24,000 cases of violation and abuse of Filipino workers in Kuwait in 2022, according to Department of Migrant Workers data – a significant increase from 6,500 cases in 2016. More than 268,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait.