08/23/2005, 00.00
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Filipino domestics in the United Arab Emirates: slavery and violence

The charges are made by a group of emigrant workers in the United Arab Emirates. The group is calling on Manila to file a formal protest and to review diplomatic links with Dubai.

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of Filipino emigrant workers has asked Manila to file a formal protest and to review diplomatic links with the government of the United Arab Emirates because of widespread abuses suffered by Filipino personnel at the hands of their Arab employers.

More than 60 Filipino domestics have already asked for asylum in the Embassy of the Philippines in Dubai. At the moment they are living in makeshift shelters to avoid sexual molestation and beatings from their employers and to try to get wages due to them. The Filipino women came to Dubai – which is in full economic swing – to work as domestics for around 160 US dollars a month. In past weeks, the number of those escaping has increased to around five per day.

"The Philippine government should immediately lodge a diplomatic protest and review our relations with the United Arab Emirates in view of new reports of abused Filipino workers," the group, called Migrante, said. "The Philippine government must take immediate action to teach host countries that it is not right to condone abusive employers and leave guest workers without a livelihood, without food and without justice." Consular officials said some runaway maids had showed up with bruises or had alleged they had been sexually assaulted.

This year, the court has condemned three men of the Emirates for rape of Filipino domestics. After many denunciations of abuse, Indonesia has prohibited its women of going to work in the Emirates and Generoso Calonge, Consul-General of the Philippines said his government should do the same. The consul said that out of 200,000 people of Filipino nationality who live in the Emirates, 36,000 are domestics who work for Arabs, for expatriate Europeans and for other Asian families.

The diplomat said that the consulate is working with the Dubai authorities to repatriate the women who were victims of abuse to the Philippines as quickly as possible.

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