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Saudi domestics ban is a blessing

/ 08:49 PM July 09, 2011

The Saudi government’s decision to halt the deployment of Filipino domestic workers is a blessing.

“No to Saudi” especially for women, has been the stand of Bantay OCW for the past 14 years. We have  repeatedly appealed to the government to make it a state policy, not to allow women to work as domestic helpers in Arab countries, where they are most vulnerable.

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Some of the women leave the country as passengers but sad to say, some return home in a box as cargo.

There are many reports of Filipino domestics  abused, maltreated, sexually harassed, starved to death, raped and even killed.  Some as treated as prisoners and slaves, as if they were personal property of their employers; some are not allowed to return home even though they have finished their contracts. Some never received a single Saudi riyal for their long years of service. Lucky ones are  able to run away from their inhuman employers.

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Some of our male OFWs have not been spared from abuse. We have received complaints of men also being raped and molested by Arabs.

When some complainants at Radyo Inquirer heard about the ban, they nodded their approval. An OFW’s husband even pleaded to have the ban made retroactive. His wife has been in Saudi for six months now and is reportedly being maltreated by her employer, he claimed.

What are the issues involved? The Philippines has rejected an appeal from Saudi Arabia to make the minimum wage for Filipino maids $200 instead of the proposed $400. Saudi officials, on the other hand, have rejected the Philippine government’s requirements for employers wishing to hire a Filipino domestic, such as insisting on getting their personal data and information on their income.

Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said these measures hope to protect the welfare of overseas workers particularly in Arab countries, where many domestics are treated like contract slaves.

However, recruitment agencies say otherwise. They claim it’s impossible for foreign employers to pay $400. According to them, that is not what the market dictates, it’s only on paper that household service workers receive $400 as processed by the POEA. In reality, they only receive $150 to $200. Contract substitution is common.

Our OFWs truly deserve a better place where they can be treated as humans, not as  animals.

This Saudi ban is another wake up call. Let’s look at the positive effect rather than the negative: Our women will no longer entertain the thought of applying for slavery jobs in Arab countries since there will be no jobs available for them. Mothers will look for better livelihood alternatives by attending trainings and seminars for additional skills, and hopefully, choose to stay home, and still serve as “the guiding lights” of their families.

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Thanks to Saudi government for imposing the ban.

Susan Andes, a.k.a Susan K, is on board at Radyo Inquirer (990 DZIQ AM) from Monday to Friday, 7-8:30 p.m. (Audio/video live streaming: www.dziq.am) and NBN Channel 4 (Monday to Friday) 10:10 p.m. – 11:10 p.m. Bantay OCW Foundation  Hotlines: 5357209 and 8819423 or cell phone 0919-2140699. E-mail: susankbantayocw@yahoo.com / bantayocwfoundation@yahoo.com

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TAGS: abuse, ban, domestic helper, maid, Overseas employment, Saudi Arabia
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