A Filipino household service worker (HSW) managed to escape from her alleged abusive employer on June 20 and ran to the Philippine Embassy for help after allegedly enduring three years of torture in the hands of her female employer. “Almira” (not her real name), suffered horrific injuries as shown by the wounds, burns and scars on her body. “My arms, my back, my legs, my stomach, she turned my body to an ironing board and burnt me with a flat iron. She also hit me several times with a metal or steel and a tennis racket. She also hit me so hard with an aluminum ladle that it broke. She beats me up every day. She hits me with whatever stuff she can get hold of,” sobbed Almira.
Even her ears were not spared from the torture. “She would poke my ears with pencil and press a key to my ears till blood oozes out and she would stop. My ears have been badly damaged,” she said.
Almira claimed that she was tortured and locked up by her female employer every day. Her male employer also maltreated her twice by hitting her with the leather ‘oqal’ (head ring) of his ghutra (male headdress). “I was crying. She kicked me. She won’t stop till she sees blood from my body. When she sees blood, she would push me to my room and orders me to take a bath,” she narrated. There were times when she was not given food to eat for two to three days and was even called “dog” by her employer.
Almira, 22, is a native of Maguindanao in Southern Philippines came to Kuwait to work to support her family back home. “I didn’t know how I was able to endure three years of torture. Maybe, it’s because of my great love for my family, for my parents to the point that I became numb and dumb. All what I was thinking was the money that I can send them and be able to talk to my parents whenever my madam sends the money to the Philippines.
That’s the only time I can talk to my parents, after I give them the control number of my remittance, my madam takes the phone away from me immediately,” she shared. The Philippine Embassy vowed to extend its full assistance to Almira until she gets justice. “This is really a great injustice and we will be exhausting all our legal remedies to give her justice. This includes filing a criminal complaint, a civil complaint for damages and also blacklisting of the employers so they won’t be allowed to have or employ Filipino household workers. We will also fully aid in her rehabilitation so we will subject her to counselling, debriefing and other psycho-social interventions,” said Vice Consul Atty. Shiena Tesorero.
The embassy will also launch an investigation on the Philippine recruitment agency and the foreign recruitment agency that deployed Almira. “Why was she deployed in 2011 when she was merely 18 years old? She was clearly an underage worker and why was she not monitored by her agency and at the same why was she not repatriated after the end of her contract?” Tesorero asked.
Almira is now under the custody of the embassy. “I want to file a case against my madam for all what she did to me. I want to show her what she did to me and ask her why she did this to me. Why didn’t she pity me? I’m only small,” she cried.