MANILA, Apr 22 (Mabuhay) — Saudi Arabia is studying the possibility of scrapping the kafala or sponsorship system for domestic workers, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.

“There is no turning back because the reforms have started already,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“Saudi Arabia is already studying whether to include our household service workers.”

At present, only skilled and semi-skilled foreign workers in Saudi Arabia can benefit from its Labor Reform Initiative.

The DFA said the new policy allows foreign workers to change jobs by transferring their sponsorship from one employer to another, leave and re-enter the country, and secure final exit visas without the consent of their employer.

“This is the new civil rights movement because this is freedom from slavery,” Arriola said.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte demanded the abolition of the kafala system in the Middle East, calling it “unjust and exploitative.”

He said the system has resulted in several rights abuses such as inhumane working conditions, non-payment of wages, restriction of movements, denial of healthcare, sexual exploitation, and murder.

“We will be relentless in our efforts to dismantle this unjust structure,” Duterte said. (MNS)

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