A 35 year old Filipina Joan Alameda appeals for help from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to provide assistance regarding her case, which has been pending for the past few months. Alameda, a victim of physical abuse and accident while attempting to escape from her employer underwent spine and hipbone surgeries and is hospitalized at Razy Hospital in Kuwait. Alameda who has been staying in the hospital and was due for release in October has a huge outstanding hospital bill that restricts her release.
Alameda recounted that she worked with another Filipina in a Kuwaiti house and both were being forced to admit stealing gold from their employer. Both women suffered successive physical abuses until they were threatened to be killed if they refused to surrender the missing item. That same day, both planned to escape from the residence for fear of being killed. Bed sheets tied together from the balcony was their only way of escape; unfortunately Alameda fell from the second floor and suffered fractured spine and hip bone. She was brought to Razy hospital and underwent two major operations. Her Kuwaiti employer in return cancelled her residency and abandoned her in the hospital while recuperating from the operations.
“They were so inhuman; we were beaten up by one of their family members who was a police authority. He kept beating us and forcing us to admit to stealing gold, which we have never seen. I told myself I am not going to die for a crime I never committed and thought of my children who were hoping to have a better life,” said Alameda.
Alameda’s case has been referred to the Assistance to the Nationals Unit (ATNU) of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait “Three different officials from the ATNU department came to visit me and documented my case but till now for the past four months there has been no results to my pleas. The hospital bill everyday is piling up and I am left to think where to get that huge amount of money and to stamp my already expired visa due to the cancellation made by my employer,” added Alameda.
The head of the ATNU Ramon Nerida initially visited and documented her case followed by Nabil and Joseph who also promised to update her case, but till today no action has been made from this department of the Philippine Embassy. Alameda lamented that hospital administration informed her that if the embassy will not do any action on her case they will have to have her taken out from the hospital and detained.
“I am having difficulty walking; I needed to wear a back support and a quad cane (staff) to be able to walk and now the weather is cold my operations hurt so much. I wanted to be able to go home alive and be with my children and the embassy is all my hope, but help seems evasive and vague to achieve. I ask for the Philippine President to kindly look upon my plea and help me come home and appeal to other human rights and advocacies to bring my case to the right channels that I may go home safely,” cried Alameda.
Alameda thanked her agency secretary and her agency for looking and providing for her every need in the hospital and constant visit to check on her conditions.
There are about 220,000 Filipinos in Kuwait and 70 percent of them are house helpers. An average of 2 to 3 runaways are being monitored and documented for several causes such as physical abuse, sexual rape, non-payment of salaries, no day offs, forced to work longer hours, not enough food, and no rest between works, reselling of contracts to other employers and agencies and more. Philippine shelter currently houses close to 400 wards including illegal and undocumented children and medical cases. It has been one of the most numbers of wards recorded in the shelter.
Amidst a call for a moratorium on Filipina house helpers from coming to Kuwait and successive visits by officials from the labor department of the Philippines to check on the conditions of growing number of wards or runaways, there have been no results so far and as long as the government refuses to take action, more cases of abuses will surface.
By Ricky Laxa