Monday, August 22, 2005

Workers' group urge RP government to protest alleged abuse of maids in UAE

08/22 3:21:00 PM

MANILA (AP) - A migrant workers' group on Monday urged the Philippine government to file a protest and review ties with the United Arab Emirates following reports that a rising number of Filipina maids are being abused by their employers in the Gulf country.

More than 60 Filipina maids have sought refuge at the Philippine consulate in Dubai, living in a makeshift shelter there to escape beatings and sexual harassment and seek unpaid wages.

Filipino women have been flooding into the fast-growing city to work as maids for as little as US$160 a month. But the influx has led to the number seeking shelter to double in recent weeks, with as many as five runaways a day fleeing to the consulate, labor attache Vicente Cabe said Wednesday in Dubai.

"The Philippine government should immediately lodge a diplomatic protest and review our relations with the United Arab Emirates in view of new reports of abused Filipina workers," Migrante said in a statement.

"The Philippine government must take immediate action to teach host countries ... that it is not right to condone abusive employers and leave guest workers without a livelihood, without food and without justice."

Consular officials said some runaway maids show up with bruises or allege sexual assault. Three men have been jailed in the Emirates this year for alleged rape of Filipina maids. With so many reports of abuse, Indonesia recently banned unskilled women from working in the Gulf as house maids.

Philippine Consul-General Generoso Calonge said he wanted his government to do the same.

Cabe estimated some 36,000 maids are among more than 200,000 Filipinos working in the Emirates. The maids work for local Arabs as well as expatriate European and Asian families. Nearly 2 million Filipinos live and work in the Arab countries on the Gulf, he said.

The increase in abuse cases stems from two sources: the burgeoning number of maids arriving in Dubai, one of the world's fastest growing cities, and the awareness that they can go to the consulate to report it, Calonge said.

The consulate is working with Dubai authorities to quickly return the women to the Philippines.

Dozens of runaways are stuck at the consulate-- with 25 sleeping in one room-- until Cabe or other diplomats are able to persuade employers to pay back wages and buy them tickets home. #

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