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OFWs learn to obey Ramadan rules, but maids complaining

/ 03:46 AM August 28, 2011

No Filipino was arrested this year for breaking Ramadan rules in Saudi Arabia but maids complained of being overworked during the Muslim holy month, according to Migrante, an organization concerned with migrant labor problems.

Unlike before, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia are getting more “socially conscious” with no Filipino being arrested so far for violating rules—which range from a ban on smoking to making noise—during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Migrante said Saturday.

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Migrante International noted that Ramadan was ending either on August 29 or 30 but there have been no report of OFWs being arrested for breaking Ramadan prohibitions, unlike in the past two years.

Monterona pointed out that there were around 20 OFWs apprehended in 2009 while 35 were arrested last year for violations during Ramadan.

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“It’s a good sign that our fellow OFWs are becoming socially conscious on the prohibitions by the host governments,” Monterona said.

“Violation of Ramadan rules is considered a petty crime, with a corresponding penalty of imprisonment of six months to one year and a number of lashes,” he added.

During the holy month, it is strictly prohibited to smoke, have sex, commit acts of violence or make sarcastic comments. Gossiping and making noise are also prohibited.  Even non-Muslim expatriate workers are expected to observe these prohibitions, Monterona said.

While there were no Filipinos arrested so far in violation of Ramadan rules, Monterona said he received a report that there was an OFW nabbed in a drug-related case in Riyadh.

“We are coordinating with embassy officials about this case as the family of the OFW sought assistance from us,” Monterona said.

“We (also) continue to receive requests for assistance from OFW domestic workers complaining about the difficulty of their work,” he added.

During Ramadan, maids are required to do household and other chores starting “early in the morning until late at night,” he said.

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Monterona cited the case of a Riyadh-based OFW complaining that her hands had become “swollen due to immense exposure to water and dishwashing soap.”

“She already asked her employer to give her rest but the latter insisted she continue with her chores,” he said. Migrante said it was urging labor officials to talk with her employer and urge him to be more socially conscious of the human rights of domestic workers.” Philip C. Tubeza

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TAGS: Human Rights, Islam, Labor, Migrante International, Overseas Filipino workers, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia
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