The number of Filipino workers in Kuwait dropped dramatically over nine months due to reports of domestic workers being abused in the country.

Kuwait’s Central Administration of Statistics said the total number of male and female Filipinos in the country dropped from 243,400 to 216,200 in 2018 – in other words, 27,000 Filipinos left the country in nine months, the Kuwait Times reported.

About 86% of the Filipinos who left Kuwait were female, most of them domestic workers. Analysts speculated that the decline was related to the crisis over domestic workers last year.

Early last year, the body of a Filipino domestic worker was found stuffed in a freezer in an apartment in Saliya for more than a year. As a result, the Philippine government banned all Filipinos from being deployed to Kuwait and called on all Filipinos in the country to return home.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the permanent deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait was due to the poor work conditions in the country.

Earlier this month, 30 Filipino domestic workers were repatriated to the Philippines after claiming they had been physically or sexually assaulted by their employers. The Filipinas were also not given their monthly salaries, the Arab Times reported.

Filipinos make up the fourth-largest nationality of expat workers in Kuwait. Indians top the list with 889,000 nationals, followed by Egyptians with 848,000 and Bangladeshis with 271,000. The four nationalities account for 89% of total domestic or private sector employment in Kuwait.