Hanggang Kailan – Until When..
May of this year, news broke out that Saudi Arabia will stop hiring Indonesian workers that includes household helpers. The reason – the cost of recruiting labor from Indonesia is ridiculous. The Saudis spent SR 9000 in getting an Indonesian maid and Indonesian government also asked for a SR 375.00 increase of wage in all Indonesian workers coming to the Kingdom.
On the other hand, Indonesian government banned their warm human bodies to work in Kuwait and up to now the two countries are still exchanging drafts of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help improve the conditions of Indonesian’s working in Kuwait. The Indonesian government promise to lift the ban if the requests to provide more protection of their nationals are written in the MoU.
Early of this year, there were rumors that Saudi government will likewise moving towards stopping the recruitment of housemaids coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam for alleged failures to supply qualified housemaids that suit the local culture and tradition.
Probably this time it is not Saudi Arabia that will impose the ban but the Sri Lankan government should do the first move after what had happened to L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid who complained of maltreatment and abused.
Ariyawathi x-rays have shown that she had 24 nails and needles in her body. “They (her employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body,” Ariyawathi was quoted as saying in the Lakbima, a newspaper published in the local Sinhalese language.
Without Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam as a source of warm human bodies in the Saudi households, there will be more likely Filipina domestic helpers in every Saudi houses in the Kingdom. It means – Philippine government is happy, the more OFW remittances, the better and merrier.
Believe me this countless sob stories of abused to our Filipina domestic helpers abroad will continue and surely there will be like L.T. Ariyawathi if the Philippine Government could not come up with concrete measures to protect them.
In 1998 Saudi Arabia and Philippines enter into less formal bilateral arrangements focused on household helpers such as: that overseas employers must guarantee the safety of the workers and provide human condition in the workplace, give them one day off a week, pay them overtime for work during Friday’s and grant them a two-week annual leave or 30 days upon completion of 2 years. However, we all knew that these agreements based on the mutually agreed employment contract never materialize when the workers arrived at site. The fact that there are many complaints and runaways housed in Resource Centers and welfare centers in the Gulf countries, the so-called arrangement are not efficiently being implemented.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council passed a bill to improve legal protections for the estimated 1.5 million domestic workers in the country, but the measure still falls short of international standards according to Human Rights Watch.
I, personally appeal to Rep. Carlos Padilla and to all the members of the House of the Representatives fact finding committee to move and let your recommendation proceed to the next level of talks among your peers. A total ban on sending Filipino maids or domestic helpers to the Middle East is the right and concrete move.
The recommendations was made last year by members of the fact-finding mission after they found out that many of the Filipino maids working in different places in the Middle East were being treated as slaves and were sexually and physically abused.
“Kailan titigil ang pang-aabuso at kailan matatapos ang kalbaryo, ng mga taong hindi masagot ang mga tanong at walang lakas lumaban…. Hanggang Kailan”