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Oct 01st
Home Sections Womens Section The Continued Abuse of Filipino Maids
The Continued Abuse of Filipino Maids PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Women's Section
Thursday, 06 September 2007 09:06

Today, let us revisit Rasheed Abou-Alsamh’s "Manila Moods" 2004 Column about the "continued abuse of Filipino maids." I actually reprinted in my then "Daily B.R.E.A.D." column in the Mr. Rasheed’s column in February 2004 after it appeared in several Filipino e-groups. The purpose of reprinting Mr. Rasheed’s article is to document the abuses that Filipino maids continue to suffer because their government, which is led by another Filipino woman, is really indifferent to their plight.

FILIPINO women who work abroad as domestic helpers continue to be the most vulnerable of Overseas-Filipino workers. The news this week that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is sending a team to Beirut, Lebanon, to investigate the suspicious deaths of three Filipino maids there, brought that point home again.

All three victims, Louella Montenegro who died Feb. 24, Catherine Bautista who died on May 3, and an unnamed third victim who died on May 16, fell to their deaths while trying to escape from their abusive employers. In Bautista's case, her family claims that she was told by the daughter of former ambassador Roy Señeres to go to the Philippine embassy in Beirut and await further instructions. Unfortunately for Bautista, embassy officials told her to return to her employer. Shortly afterwards, Bautista fell to her death while attempting another escape.

The Lebanese police have agreed to reopen her case upon pressure from the Philippine government, and have launched a criminal investigation after National Bureau of Investigation examiners in the Philippines said Bautista had a head fracture due to clubbing and not from a fall.

The DFA team should make sure that criminal charges are filed against all three sets of employers, and they should find out who at the Philippine Embassy told Bautista to return to her employer. Already, embassy officials are playing a game of "I'm not to blame?" Labor attaché Alicia Santos told that she had already been transferred to Rome, Italy, when the whole Bautista incident took place. She pointed the finger to the current labor attaché in Lebanon, Mrs. Liddy Tañedo.

The DFA should make it their policy not to force runaway maids to return to abusive employers. If no reconciliation can be achieved, or if there is any doubt as to the continued safety of the maid if she returns to work, the maid should be sent back to the Philippines.

Abusive employers treat their maids as modern-day slaves, locking them in when the employers go out, not giving them days off, and sometimes beating up and sexually abusing them. Not covered by labor laws, maids have little legal recourse to complain about 18-hour workdays and delayed salaries. The least that Philippine missions abroad can do for them is provide with them refuge and help them return home. UNQUOTE.

The author is Rasheed Abou-Alsamh

International Desk Editor

Arab News

PO Box 10452

Jeddah 21433

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Tel. +966-2-639-1888, ext. 3311

Fax: +966-2-639-3223

Readers may contact the author at, and/or read his blog:

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Last Updated on Saturday, 27 October 2007 03:15

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