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    » 03/17/2012, 00.00

    SAUDI ARABIA - PHILIPPINES

    Saudi Arabia, 70% of Filipino domestic workers suffer physical and psychological violence



    Revealed by research of the Committee on Overseas Workers Welfare. The cases of rape suffered by Filipino young people are on the agenda. To avoid an increase in wages, the government of Riyadh bans unskilled workers from the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Underpaid, exploited and often abused by their employers, Filipino domestic workers are one of the groups most at risk in Arabian countries, especially Saudi Arabia. A study published by the Committee on Workers Overseas Welfare, says that 70% of workers employed as caregivers or without a specific work qualification suffers continous physical and psychological harassment. Despite repeated calls by human rights organizations and associations in defense of immigrants, to date the Philippine government can only defend the rights of skilled workers: engineers, doctors, nurses. They are the most requested by the Saudi labor market and also the ones who have registered contracts, because employees in national hospitals, research centers or large companies. The unskilled workers who arrive in the Arabian country have no guarantee of employment, wages or protection.

    With more than 10 million workers worldwide, the Philippines is the third country in the world for the number of emigrants after China and India. In 2008, over 600 thousand Filipinos have chosen to travel to the Middle East in spite of continued incidents of exploitation. For Christians, it also comes to the persecution. Mainly women are suffering: the cases of rape are commonplace and often those who suffer can not sue because their documents are seized by the employer.

    Lorraine is a young 27 year old Filipina who arrived in Saudi Arabia in early 2010 to work as a domestic worker for a family of Jeddah. She said that the violence began just days after her arrival at the airport. "When my boss came to pick me - she says - he tried to touch me at once to see if I was available. In the first weeks I constantly suffered his advances which became more insistent every time I refused." In nine months of employment Lorraine was raped five times.

    She said that in addition to the sexual violence she suffered all kinds of abuse: "I worked 20 hours a day without a break. The wife of my boss insulted me and beat me because I did not understand Arabic, and did not do her bidding. My lunch was a piece of bread and leftovers from the plates of the family. " After months of harassment on December 30, 2010, the young woman got in touch with the staff of the Philippines Overseas Labour Office (POLO), who reported the case to the police. After months of investigation the authorities arrested her employer. To date, the girl is hosted by POLO and must remain in Saudi Arabia until the case against the perpetrator is concluded.

    In recent years, POLO and the Philippine embassy in Riyadh have collected hundreds of testimonies of young women and men tortured and abused in the workplace. The cases also involve important companies. On February 24, 89 Filipino employees of the Swayaeh cosmetics Company, launched an appeal to President Aquino to ask to be repatriated as soon as possible. In recent years they have been abused, left hungry, unpaid for over 5 months. In October, to quell a factory protest the owners called the police armed with shotguns to force workers to work.

    Similar cases are seen by Indonesian employees. The relations between the two countries broke down after the decapitation of Ruyati Binti Satubi Saruna, a Indonesian migrant of 54 years, sentenced to death for murder. The Saudi authorities prosecuted the woman and sentenced her on 18 June 2011 without any consultation with the Indonesian government.

    Since November 3, the government of Manila and Jakarta have been trying to reach an agreement with the Saudi Ministry of Labour to ensure migrant workers a minimum wage and protection from physical and psychological violence. Riyadh has so far responded to these requests by closing its borders to the unskilled. In recent days, the Saudi Minister for Labor has defined the demand for an increase in wages and greater protection of workers illogical, stressing that his office has already contacted the governments of other countries that have no such pretensions.

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    See also

    13/11/2004 MIDDLE EAST
    The difficult situation of domestic helpers in the Gulf
    They are mostly Asian and Christian, abused, victims of violence and lacking in legal protection. Now their plight is on governments' agenda.

    11/11/2009 INDONESIA - SAUDI ARABIA
    Indonesia repatriates thousands of expats in Saudi Arabia: exploited in the workplace
    Increasing instances of exploitation, abuse and violence, especially to domestic workers. About 11 thousand illegal immigrants detained in prisons in Saudi Arabia.

    05/06/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Filipino nurses in Riyadh against the centre of assistance to migrants: they have abandoned us
    Head of Overseas Workers Employment Assistance Administration in Riyadh under accusation. Instead of helping abused nurses he demands they return to work. The 30 women were repatriated in March and worked for Annasbah, a Riyadh company known for ongoing abuses against employees. Now fears for the fate of 30 other companions still blocked in the Saudi capital.

    28/01/2010 PHILIPPINES – SAUDI ARABIA
    Christian Filipino migrants forced to convert to Islam
    A Filipino nurse with ten years in Saudi Arabia talks about the dramatic situation of Christian workers, forced to embrace Islam just to keep their job. Despite abuses and violence, migrants still choose the Middle East because of the availability of work.

    02/07/2011 INDONESIA - SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi Arabia "to drive out" all Indonesian migrants
    The decision announced June 30. Jakarta replies that it has pre-empted a decision already taken to stop migration. But experts point out that Riyadh needs the Indonesian workforce and Jakarta has millions of unemployed. Instead safety and rights should be discussed.



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