MY two previous articles entitled, “Our Red Crescent illuminates the sky of Philippines” and “Kuwait without Filipinas!!” published in the Arab Times and Al-Qabas newspapers, focused on the Filipino community in Kuwait and our relationship with them. These articles received what can be described as a controversial response.
The response came from an American. I prefer to share it with as many readers as possible among Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis for us to know the opinion of others about us. We should not settle for our opinions only and turn deaf ears to the opinion of others.
Here is what the American reader wrote, followed by my brief response.
“Judging from your position as former minister of oil, I am sure that you have not had the opportunity to speak candidly with locals in the Philippines and other countries.
As a normal everyday American traveler, I have.
I can tell you that from numerous people, from numerous cities, on numerous islands in the Philippines that I have heard countless stories, time and time again about these abuses in the Middle East. I heard more of them from Saudi Arabia than anywhere else.
I assure you that this sad incident with the dead woman in the freezer is NOT an isolated incident.
There are thousands and thousands of people being held hostage and forced to work as slaves in the Middle East. There isn’t one country I haven’t heard stories similar to this.
If you have the compassion you put forth in the article here: (www.arabtimesonline.com/news/kuwaitis-without-filipinas/), then you ought to know that this is happening A LOT more than you think, and you position, power and money are probably blocking you from knowing the truth.
I am not a journalist, just someone that happens to love the beaches and the beauty of the world. I’ve been all over Asia and I prefer to stay with locals and this is how I have had the opportunities to have such conversations with families who have daughters that have experienced this; others whose daughters never came back, and also daughters that came home pregnant because they were only released when their employer got them pregnant out of marriage.
More than 8,000 drug dealers have been killed and left in the streets of the Philippines. You know the president is serious about what he says. He is getting things done and I respect him.
Your article may be more of a prophecy than you think. I hope for everyone’s sake, you find a way to control this.
I would suggest this be managed by companies that have rules. One rule must be that the worker must be able to speak on the phone at any time and in their own language so that the employer likely cannot understand what is being said.
They should be visited annually at least annually or required by the employer to visit home annually. This would allow anyone that is unhappy to be able not to return.
So probably a work visa that requires the employer to pay for their return annually would be a huge deterrent from bad behavior. Certainly laws that prosecute employers that get their employees pregnant would be huge. An agency that monitors why these girls return would be able to gauge that.
We both known that some families are too powerful and would threaten the safety of the workers families. So we will probably never be able to totally stop this.
The reality is, there are those people who go around to look for desperate girls in order to recruit them. They offer to pay for their passport and the flight over there. This nearly happened to someone that I know and she would have become a victim too if she did not get an intervention.
Some of them give these desperate girls money and then later claim they own a debt to them and that they must go to the Middle East to work it off.
Sadly, it is safe to say that, slavery will never end in today’s world. It can only be challenged. Are you willing to challenge it?”
I respond to the American reader by saying: “I completely agree with what you said about female employees from Philippines in terms of work conditions and miserable jobs in the Middle East.”
However, my question is: Why did the President of the Philippines focus on Kuwait only considering the fact that we have free press and three levels of judiciary as stipulated in the Constitution?
By the way, I currently work as a lawyer. I am ready to put into action some ideas you presented in your letter if there is support from others and understanding from government bodies. Consider the challenge accepted on purely humanitarian grounds.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli – Former Minister of Oil