Underpaid, exploited and often abused by their employers, Filipino domestic workers are one of the groups most at risk in Arabian countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
A study published by the Committee on Workers Overseas Welfare, says that 70% of workers employed as caregivers or without a specific work qualification suffers continuous physical and psychological harassment.
The Philippine government can only defend the rights of skilled workers: engineers, doctors, nurses. They are the most requested by the Saudi labor market and also the ones who have registered contracts, because employees in national hospitals, research centers or large companies. The unskilled workers who arrive in the Arabian country have no guarantee of employment, wages or protection.
A Filipino maid was allegedly tied to a tree as punishment for leaving furniture outside in the sun.
The woman, named Lovely Acosta Baruelo, 26, had been working for a wealthy family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for several months.
But she is said to have angered her employers after leaving a piece of expensive furniture outside in the heat, where it risked being faded by the sun.
A colleague, also from the Philippines, took pictures of the alleged punishment showing Lovely tied by her wrists and legs to a tree in the family’s garden on May 9.
The Middle Eastern family are understood to have carried out the act to show her the effects of staying outside in under the sun.
The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was made aware of the situation and successfully helped the mother-of-two to return home.
A spokesman said: ‘The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reports that Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Lovely Acosta Baruelo from Saudi Arabia arrived in Manila at 8:55 p.m. on 9 May 2019.
‘The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh reported that the case of OFW Baruelo was referred to them on 9 May, and she was repatriated on the same day. OFW Baruelo was allegedly punished by her employer by being tied to a tree.’
A woman who claimed to be Acosta’s co-worker appealed for help and said that their employer would hurt them whenever they commit small mistakes.
Lovely has since returned to her family in La Union, the Philippines.
Speaking this week, the relieved worker said: ‘Thank you so much to all those who helped me. I want to also ask help for the other Filipinos left there. They are the ones who helped me and uploaded my pictures. I am afraid for their safety. I hope they get rescued too.
‘You old man will find your karma, just you wait. Keep deducting our salaries. This is the reason why you have poor health. It’s your karma for all the wrong things you did.’
An estimated 2.3 million Filipinos work in the Middle East and Africa. Of this number, more than half are women.
There have been many complaints that they are mistreated by their new employers.