A week ago I received a call at 1:30 early morning; I may call it a distress call. The person in the other line was an acquaintance a long time ago; it even took me a few minutes to remember her.
She was crying asking for help. Mutawwa’in, a religious police who constitute the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice in the Kingdom, apprehended her and two other female companions. They just stepped out from a car and about to enter a restaurant when the religious police spotted them and asked for proper documentation.
My friend actually was in a wrong place at a wrong time, she was in the company of unrelated person of the opposite sex.
I advised my friend to relax and instructed her to contact her sponsor.
I contacted Attache Tom Lawson at the Philippine Embassy who acted right away and later found out that 2 of her companions have serious problem due to the absence of working permits or iqamas. In other words her companions were undocumented OFWs.
My friend who has complete documents was released after her sponsor came and signed a waiver for her temporary release. Her other companion who have a photo copy only of her iqama was also freed the next day after her employer showed up at the police precinct and bailed her out. The third one who doesn’t have a residence permit remains in jail.
However, their case that is called “immorality” will be forwarded to the court that will render the final decision. A hearing would take place for them to defend themselves in court.
Men and women found together with faked marriage documents or who were not married or closely related is against the Islamic law in the Kingdom; and it is “immorality or prostitution” according to its interpretation of Shari’a.
If men and women found in an embarrassing situation, women could be charged with “prostitution”. The police will then file a case to the court and if found guilty, it is punishable by flogging with a cane and a prison term of six (6) months or more and subject for deportation.
Many fellow OFWs are incarcerated in different jails in the 3 Regions of the Kingdom from various offenses including immorality and illegal marriage. To my fellow OFWs in the Kingdom – please let us respect the law of our host country and see to it that the documents with you are legal binding documents and not a fake one, or else you may spend part of your working contract in jail with flogging as bonus.