The number of workers leaving Sri Lanka to take up jobs as housemaids in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Far East has soared by more than 16 percent in the past year, Arab News reported.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar were the main destinations in the Middle East for domestic employees coming from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, with Japan and South Korea most popular in the Far East.
Figures for the areas highlighted show that a total of 64,965 people left Sri Lanka to work as housemaids in 2018, an increase from 55,884 the year before.
Madhava Deshapriya, deputy general manager for corporate communications at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, told Arab News that the upward trend is being put down to recruitment agencies making salary payments of up to SR6,000 ($1,600) to housemaids in advance of them leaving Sri Lanka for their new jobs abroad.
One Sri Lankan recruitment agent, Abdul Rahman, said new laws restricting working hours for women had encouraged maids to seek out better-paid jobs in other countries. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million Sri Lankans currently working in the Middle East.