Indonesia will stop domestic workers from going to 21 Middle Eastern and North African countries over concerns about “degrading” working conditions and abuse, the Manpower Ministry said.
The ban will be imposed on workers seeking to work for individual employers or families, not companies, said the ministry.
“The government has the power to bar placement in certain countries if the jobs are considered to be degrading to the person and the nation’s dignity,” Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said on the ministry’s website.
Hanif said domestic workers such as maids in some Middle Eastern countries were often subjected to human rights abuses and wages as low as 2.7 million rupiah (207 dollars) a month.
The ban will come into force after a transitional period of three months.
The countries affected by the band are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Jordania..
Indonesia imposed a moratorium on sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries in 2011 following a spate of abuse cases against maids.
The Manpower Ministry said employers in the Middle East often prevented Indonesian maids from returning to their home country even after their contracts had expired.
Last month, two female Indonesian domestic workers were executed in Saudi Arabia in separate murder cases, prompting diplomatic protests from Jakarta.
Indonesian workers send home around 7 billion dollars annually and form a major source of the country’s foreign exchange incomes, according to the central bank.
More than 400,000 workers from Indonesia went overseas last year, including 100,000 to the Middle East, according to the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers.
About 2 million Indonesians currently work in the Middle East, mostly as domestic workers.