Monday, November 3, 2008

Clara: Filipina rape victim in Qatar

I happened to read this particular article from mefilipinos dot wordpress dot com. Though this has happened way back in 2006 but it is just so sad for me to pass on this one, without letting you know the situations that some of our domestic helpers kababayan are suffering in the middle east. As mentioned in my previous article "Mail-order Brides, Prostitutes and DH", so sad that even our own government agencies cannot offer an extended hands and services to these victims of oppression and sexual assaults.

The following excerpt is said to be from Ellen Tordesillas' blog. And the victim's identity is hidden under the name "Clara". Please read and let us continue to pray for the safety of all the filipina domestic helpers around the globe and for our government officials to dig deeper to cases like this.

Excerpts from the signed affidavit Filipina rape victim in Qatar. We will hide her identity under the name “Clara”.

Sometime in April 2005, my father suffered a second stroke and was unable to work since then. I wanted to be able to work in Oman in order to care and provide for my parents as I did not want them to return to the Philippines. This prompted me to seek for any job placement for Oman.Sometime in May 2005, I read Jinhel International Recruitment Agency’s (hereinafter, “Jinhel”) Manila Bulletin advertisement for job placements in countries in the Middle East. I immediately placed a call in the telephone number contained in the ad.

After one week, I went to Jinhel’s office and paid P3,000.00 for my medical exam.I was assured of a job placement in Qatar so I decided to resign from my work as Guidance Counselor in Systems Plus Computer College in Caloocan City.I went L-R Medical & X-ray Clinic. I paid P2,730.00. Then Jinhel called in March 2006. I was told to prepare as I was sure to be sent for work in Qatar. I paid Jinhel Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to Haja Fatima as payment, she said, for her services.

Jinhel and I agreed on the following terms of my employment in Qatar: monthly salary of QD700; work is to take care of a five (5)-year old child; the first two (2) months’ salary will go to Jinhel as its commission.

At the airport, iside the immigration, we were asked to pay One Thousand Five Hundred Pesos each (P1,500.00) each, unreceipted. We were previously advised by Nelia to prepare the said amount.

I arrived in Qatar on June 8, 2006. At the airport, I was met by Faruq, a Pakistani National who introduced himself to be from Al Waleed Agency – Jinhel’s Qatari counterpart agency. Faruq asked me to sign a contract with the following terms: monthly salary of QR600; work is all-around with no day-off.

Mr. Faruq brought me to my employer, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Jumiah (hereinafter, “Dr. Abdul Aziz”). I came to know that Dr. Abdul Aziz is a Saudi National and a surgeon at the AL Ramelah Hamad Hospital. His wife was then pregnant and they had a five (5)-year old son.

My employers’ house is located inside a gated subdivision. It is a two-storey, six-bedroom house with five comfort rooms and a garden. I worked from 5:00 in the morning until about 1:00 or 2:00 the next morning as I was not allowed to sleep while my employers’ child was up. And since the child was asleep most of the time during the day, he usually went to bed past midnight.

Within a week’s time, Mrs. Abdul Aziz (I only know her as Madam Dina) started to maltreat me. Mrs. Abdul Aziz was very strict and very sensitive to dirt. Whenever she was not satisfied with my cleaning, she would pull my hair and would order to do the cleaning all over again. The house had big windows that I had to climb each time.

One time, I unintentionally overcooked the bread I was cooking. For this, she slapped me.On the second or third week, my ward, Faisal, hit me with the telephone apparatus.
One time, they brought me along to a mall. At the mall, a fellow Filipina saw the “bukol” in my head. She gave me telephone numbers at the Philippine Embassy and OWWA’s, should I decide to run away from my employers.

Sometime in June (after about 2 week-stay in Qatar), I called the Philippine Embassy and I was able to talk to one Mr. Jack. I told him about my situation but, in return, he coldly told me: ”Hindi pa naman grabe ang nangyayari sa yo. Tapusin mo na yang 2 years mo.” He also gave me Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) telephone number.

In the last week of June, I called OWWA and talked to one Mr. Sam to whom I repeated my story. He told me: “Tumakas ka na kung ayaw mo na. Lumabas ka at sumakay sa taxi.”
On 14 September 2006, I was at the kitchen while Madam Dina was upstairs taking a bath, when Dr. Abdul Aziz arrived from the office. He suddenly embraced me and touched my breasts. I pushed him and told him that I would report to his wife. He just gave me a devil’s grin. When Madam Dina came down, I told her about what her husband did to me. But Madam Dina slapped me and blamed me for what had happened.

On the same day of September 14, 2006, Dr. Abdul Aziz asked for the key in my room. He ordered me not to lock my room from then on. I became so scared that I started to use the table in my room to block the door. I also kept a knife in my room.
On the third week of September, I again called OWWA. I told them about the harassment but I was given the same advice – to run away! I again requested that I be fetched or rescued but I was given the same answer – that OWWA does not rescue workers.At around midnight on 02 November 2006, Madam Dina gave birth. He was brought to the hospital by Dr. Abdul Aziz. At about past 4:00 in the morning of 03 November 2006, I heard Dr. Abdul Aziz’ car arrive. I was then taking a shower. I got out of the bathroom. I just finished putting on my uniform when Dr. Abdul Aziz banged the door in my room. I was so shocked. Then Dr. Abdul Aziz immediately twisted my hands, laid me on the bed and tied my two hands on the bed using some cloth. He forcibly tore my clothes then raped me.

I pleaded and begged him not to do it. It hurt. I felt that his p***s was so big and I almost lost consciousness. He did a withdrawal and sprayed his sperms on my chest. After that, he untied me. Then I saw that I was bleeding. I was so weak and almost went blank. I thought of the knife but I could not think or move.After what he did, I even saw him pray the Muslim prayer. Then I heard his car leave. I checked if he left any door unlocked. All doors/gates were locked. I was still bleeding.
At about 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, I saw the window in my comfort room. I jumped out of that window. Luckily, Lorna was then working in our neighbor’s garden. She told me to look for chairs I can step on. As I was jumping to our neighbor’s garden, Lorna saw that I was bleeding.

Lorna let me out of her employer’s yard through their gate. But there were guards and so Lorna hid me behind a tree. We had to wait until the next prayer time at 11:00 in the morning. When she saw the guards entered their prayer house, Lorna advised me to run.
I hailed the taxi. I saw that it had passengers but I later learned that the taxi driver, a Filipino, saw me bleeding and so he stopped the taxi. “From the taxi, the driver placed call to the Philippine Embassy.

When we arrived at the embassy, there was a party which I later learned was a party for Connie Sison and TJ Manotoc for their Kwentong Disyerto. There were media people at the embassy. The driver called Mr. Sam to inform him that we were already outside the embassy. Mr. Sam got out and even saw the blood on my body. He did not invite us in. He just told the driver to proceed and take me to OWWA. The driver even repeated that I was bleeding but Mr. Sam insisted that I be taken to OWWA.

When we got to OWWA, there was an ongoing ballroom dancing. We were asked who we were looking for. The taxi driver was making a call to Mr. Sam in order to ask who we would look for but he was not yet responding. We waited for two hours.

After two hours (or about 9:00 at night of November 3, 2006), one Sir Levi arrived at the OWWA from the embassy. He led me to a quarter that they call “shelter” inside the OWWA. I saw many (about 30) Filipino women inside the quarter .

On the night of November 3, Connie Sison’s group also proceeded to OWWA from the embassy. Sir Levi told the leader to hide those who needed to be hid including myself because I did not look good and I was hysterical. Out of the 30 plus women, only 15 were presented to Connie Sison’s group. I later learned that they were introduced as Filipinos studying computer inside the OWWA.

I stayed in OWWA the whole day of November 4, 2006. We were fed “lugaw”. No one counseled me. I was not checked up or brought to the hospital.

On the night of November 4, 2006, Ma’am Ferida without first talking to me or asking me, called my employer. At about 8:00 in the morning the following day, my employer came. He was first attended to by Sir Levi. He was asked if I was his employee. They were later joined by Ma’am Ferida. They then invited me to sit down with them inside Ma’am Ferida and Sir Levi’s office. The door of the office was left open.

I was angry at the sight of my employer-rapist. But I could not do anything because Ma’am Ferida and Sir Levi facilitated the negotiation. I was asked not to file charges against my employer. In return, my employer would give me my five (5) months salary, a plane ticket to the Philippines as well as return my personal belongings that I left at their house when I escaped. I was made to write and sign a waiver which I worded as follows: “I will not file charges against my employer, the rape case, although it happened.”

In the morning of November 6, Sir Levi called me and gave me a plane ticket. I asked him about my personal belongings and the agreed 5 months salary that my employer would return. He said my employer only gave the ticket. I insisted, at the very least, on my things, but he said “Mamili ka. Uuwi ka or made-deport ka? Basta’s kailangan ko ng sagot mo hanggang 3:00 dahil alis tayo ng 3:30.” I cried and demanded for my things but he said ”Wala akong magagawa.” I had no choice but to agree.

Sir Levi and I left OWWA for the airport at 3:30 in the afternoon. But before leaving, I got my mobile phone that was earlier confiscated by Ma’am Ferida. I was penniless. I was not even given any money for snacks or any emergency.

At about 6:00 p.m., I boarded the plane for the Philippines. I arrived in the Philippines in November 7, 2006 where I was brought to hospitals by my family.
Not one from OWWA of the Department of Foreign Affairs assisted me in the Philippines.

The above story is not an isolated case. There are thousands and thousands of “Claras” out there being maltreated and dehumanized. And they are helpless because our government cannot protect them.