Filipino maid jailed in Saudi over dirty underwear


MANILA, Philippines—For allegedly stealing the unwashed underwear of her employer’s mother, a Filipina domestic helper was sentenced to up to one year in prison in Saudi Arabia, a migrant rights group said Saturday.

Migrante International called on the Philippine government to work for the release of domestic helper Melanie Cordon, adding that the theft case against her was false and that she was tried in absentia.

“This is quite disturbing, although this has been the usual treatment to our fellow OFWs who were falsely accused, OFW Cordon, like many other cases, was never given the opportunity to defend herself and never attended a hearing,” said Migrante Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Citing an “urgent appeal” from the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, Monterona said Cordon was detained at the main prison of Ha’il City in the central part Saudi Arabia.

He said Cordon worked at her employer’s mother’s four-storey house in June 2011 and asked that she be allowed to go home after complaining of the heavy work she had to do.

Monterona said her employer’s mother asked her to stay on until her contract expired on August 7. But In July, she was transferred to the house of her employer’s brother.

OFW Cordon left her sponsor-employer’s house but did not take her luggage, only a few items in a plastic bag, Monterona said.

On August 14, which should have been the day of her flight from Jeddah to the Philippines, Cordon went to retrieve her luggage from her sponsor-employer’s house.

“However, when she arrived to collect her luggage she found that it had been opened. There was a woman standing behind it and she identified herself as a policewoman. Cordon was handcuffed and brought to a nearby police station because her sponsor-employer’s mother had accused her of theft,” Monterona quoted the AHRC as saying.

“In Cordon’s absence, they had examined her belongings and apparently ‘found’ unwashed underwear belonging to her sponsor-employer’s mother with a few strands of hair and a picture which Melanie did see,” he added.

The domestic worker was taken to the Ha’il main prison and was able to make a phone call to her brother only on August 24.

Monterona said her brother told AHRC that a judge had entered the cell where she and other prisoners were being held and read out the verdicts to all of the prisoners there.

The judge ruled that Cordon will be jailed for a period of four months to one year, Monterona said.

He urged the Philippine embassy in Riyadh to immediately dispatch a consular team to look into the her case.

“We will closely work with the PH embassy to secure her release so that she will be immediately repatriated,” Monterona said.

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  • Anonymous

    easy for us to ask our government to ban the deployment of OFWs to Mid East countries but have we thought about the current living conditions of our less privileged kababayans in our own country? these pinays might not have the education to secure a decent paying job that’s why she’s forced to work as a maid in other countries. and some of them are sole bread winners of their families.

    not sending these OFWs abroad is not the solution – as well as it is not the OFWs fault if they get maltreated even though they know that such abuses occur overseas. please don’t blame the victims for we are not in the position to judge and to know what they have been through before they left the Philippines.

    the solution, even if it is too much of a stretch, is the improvement of our foreign affairs policies and our country’s bilateral relationships with other countries.

  • Aspo resurrection

    to the author Mr. Tubeza, are you trying to post a comedy headlines???

  • Anonymous

    SAD & UNBELIEVABLE  news about our hapless Pinay compatriot who was jailed because, allegedly,   she stole dirty underwear of her employer’s mother! This is just a concocted lie & baseless accusation hurled against her by this Saudi employer  to suit her evil & malicious desire due to the following reasons:- (1) Saudi woman body built is almost double with that of Pinay’s that is why stealing undies is of no use to her as it definitely will not fit to her waistline; (2) As per Saudi women cultural practices, they are not so considerate & mindful about their everyday  personal hygiene. It takes a couple of days before they replace their undies so that nobody, perhaps, even rats will dare to touch this dirty undies with very foul & nauseating smell. Pinay maids who got bleak opportunity to be of service with them or Pinay nurses who were unfortunately  assigned at the delivery wards of the Saudi clinics & hospitals can attest to the veracity of this. This blogger got an opportunity to discuss this matter with some of the Pinay maids & nurses during his stint as  OFW in Saudi Arabia for a decade.  

  • Fan

    dati hindi naman nag-uunderwear ang maga iyan(lalake at babae)…yung lampin ang gamit nila at ang panghugas at pamunas nila ay yung buhangin sa disierto!

  • Chua Bee

    Hoy akala mo kung sino ka…nagtratrabaho kalang diyan bilang mutsatsa
    eh akala mo kung sino kanang hampas lupa. Dennis was just concerned of
    the welfare hence his comments. We dont care about your remintances,
    mamulubi nalang ang marami, kaysa ihampaslupa ang ating dignidad bilang
    pilipino….hindi ito dapat pamarisan ng pera….dignity cannot be
    bought, stupido/a!

  • andy

    ,,, the arrogance of people who wears 3-piece suit…

  • Anonymous

    This is modern day slavery, filipino women should not be allowed to work as a domestic helper dumadami lang ang mga tamad na asawang lalake. Dapat mga lalake nagtatrabaho abroad hindi yung babae. kinakawawa lang mas mabuti pa i-banned the itong mga DH work, wives can do better raising the kids while the husband should be the one working abroad.

  • Anonymous

    yan ang mahirap sa mga taong medyo makitid ang pagiisip, hindi na makita ang sitwasyon ng ibang tao kundi ang kanilang opinyon tungkol dito lang ang tama. 

    mga napakagandang komento dito:

    1. “alam na nating lahat na maraming abusong nangyayari sa Middle East laban sa mga domestic workers, pero pinagpipilitan pa na magtrabaho bilang katulong doon..”

    – sabi nga nila sa ingles, beggars cannot be choosers. kahit na anong peligro o kaliitan ng sahod ng trabaho eh susuungin ng ating mga kababayan para lang kumita para sa kanyang pamilya. Kung ikaw ba ay hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral at may pinapagaral kang mga kapatid, sa tingin mo ay maiisip mo pa ang peligro kung mayroon oportunidad na makapagtrabaho sa abroad kahit bilang katulong? Paano mo bubuhayin ang pamilya mo kung maglalako ka lang sa palengke o mamamasukan ka na labandera sa kapitbahay mong maykaya?

    2. “…dapat ang mga asawa nila ang magtrabaho abroad, at manatili sa pinas ang mga babae para mag-alaga sa mga anak…..”

    -unang punto, lahat ba ng mga pinay maids sa Saudi ay mga may asawa? marami din sa kanila ang napipilitang mag abroad dahil kailangan magpaaral ng mga kapatid at kailangan buhayin ang buong angkan sa probinsya. pangalawang punto, alam naman natin kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng trabaho abroad para sa isang lalaki lalo nat hindi skilled. at hindi ito sa pagkukunsinti sa mga lalaking tamad, kaya lang mas madaling makalabas ng bansa ang isang babae bilang domestic worker. ito ang isa pang sakripisyo ng mga OFWs natin.

    3. “bakit kasi nagpapaalipin pa sa ibang bansa, wala bang ibang desenteng trabaho dito sa pinas?”

    – ikaw ang sumagot nyan. sa tingin mo ang isang ale na may apat na anak at elementary lang ang natapos eh may makukuhang trabaho sa atin? sa taon-taon na milyon-milyon na nagtatapos sa kolehiyo eh karamihan sa kanila ang kinalalagpakan eh tambay, pano pa kaya ang ale na walang alam kundi ang mga gawaing bahay lang? madaling sabihin para sa atin, dahil tayo may natapos at malamang eh ikaw ay nagtatrabaho sa makati at naka korbata pa. pero sana wag kang maging bulag sa mga realidad ng buhay ng mga kapuspalad. 

    4. “modern day slavery daw….”

    – we have to accept the fact that we are a third-world country. there is a major part of our populace that has limited access to education. these people has no choice but to resort to “low-level” jobs in order to survive. I’m not saying that we should just let this injustices slip, but the fact remains that these jobs are badly needed by some of our fellow Filipinos. To ban them from working abroad will no solve their misery – it will just be a means of ignoring the people in the government who are not doing their jobs well. 

    5. “kayong mga nakatungtong sa ibang bansa, di namin kailangan ang mga remittances nyo!”

    – wake up kid, it is because of  these OFWs that our ship is not yet sinking. So before you blabber about insulting OFWs, go back to school and learn first.

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