Two Filipino household service workers (HSWs) working in the same household escaped from their employer and sought refuge at the Philippine Embassy shelter in Hateen area after enduring allegedly eight months of severe physical abuse from their female Kuwaiti employer leaving them with bruises and scars all over their body.
She allegedly abused them verbally, bit them, poked their eyes till blood oozed out, hit them with a broom, hose or other hard objects. Worst of all, she almost cut the tongue of one of the two HSWs and even inserted a small bottle filled with chili hot sauce and other spices into her private part.
Rhea (not her real name), 25, married with two kids who hails from Iloilo City in the Philippines arrived in Kuwait on Dec 15, 2014 and recounted to the Arab Times that her ordeal started two days after she arrived at her employer’s house. “It was December 17, I was cleaning the comfort room when suddenly she hit me twice on the back with a paddle. It hurt so much and I asked her why she hit me. She said, I work too slow so I told her to return me to the agency if she’s not happy with me but she told me I have to pay her back but she didn’t return me to the agency. Since then, she’s been hitting me everyday using any hard object,” she stated.
Rhea narrated that on Feb 27-28 this year, her female employer took her to the kitchen outside and asked her to strip naked and inserted a bottle of chili hot sauce into her private part. “I cried so hard and asked her to stop and she was happy to see the dripping chili sauce,” she shared. Then in June during the holy month of Ramadan, her female employer attempted to cut her tongue. “I turned my face away when she was trying to open my mouth. She tried to cut my tongue using a pair of scissors but I was shoving her away and she cut my upper lip and my front tooth was broken,” sobbed Rhea as she showed the scar on her lip making it look like a harelip.
Meanwhile, her other Filipina colleague, Flora (not her real name), 27, married who also hails from Iloilo City arrived at the same household on Dec 22, 2014. Like Rhea, Flora claimed she also suffered severe physical abuse in the hands of their female employer though not as grave as what happened to Rhea. “Last April 1, she hit my left arm with hose and it left a huge hematoma. She hits us daily and bites us, look at all these scars, these are all bite marks from my madam,” she stated. Aside from the physical and verbal abuse, their lady employer also shaved their heads, leaving them bald.
“It was like hell but we can’t escape because the house was locked and there were cameras all over the house that are connected to our madam’s mobile phone so she can monitor us even she’s at work. We’re also afraid to fight back because we’ve heard that her husband is a general,” explained Rhea.
Finally, on July 24, 2015, their employer and her family were travelling to the US so she took them to her sibling’s house while they were away for vacation. “We waited for two weeks then finally on August 8, we had the chance to escape and we ran to the POLO-OWWA shelter and we’re turned over to the shelter here in Hateen,” stated Flora.
Rhea and Flora are now staying temporarily at the shelter while waiting for the results of the case they filed against their employer. They are relieved that they are safe now at the shelter, however, both expressed apprehension after a Philippine embassy case officer allegedly tried to ask them to settle the case with their employer after they were taken to the Andalous Police station on Sept 21, 2015. “Our case officer Mr Mar Hassan took us to the police station. He told us just to settle the case with our employer in exchange of money and be deported so we can go home quickly. He was trying to convince us. Then came our employers at the police station. We were shocked. Sir Mar left us there in the police station. We felt so harassed. Then we were detained because our employers filed absconding case against us. Sir Mar said he can’t take us out coz we have absconding case but what about our case against our employers? We are the victims here,” lamented Rhea.
When asked by the Arab Times, embassy case officer Mar Hassan denied the allegations of the two HSWs regarding the case settlement. “That’s not true. They might have taken everything out of context. I took them to the police station because the CID has been calling me so they can identify their employers. This is one of the legal procedures. I left the room because I was asked by the investigator to leave. Then it turned out that they have an absconding case so the police detained them I tried to talk to the police on duty but they won’t let them out. I even told them not to sign any Arabic paper and not to settle. We will fight for justice,” explained Hassan.
He assured the two HSWs that he will not do anything to jeopardize their case. He added that their cases have been already filed before the prosecutor at the Farwaniya Investigation Department and docketed as numbers 830/2015; Aug 26, 2015 and 831/2015; Aug 26, 2015 respectively. He cited that he returned the next day with the embassy lawyer but they did not release the two HSWs. On the same day, Sept 22, Philippine Vice-Consul Shiena Tesorero together with Assistance to Nationals Unit Attache Ramon Nerida went to the police station to mediate. Tesorero talked to the police chief and presented the facts of the case of the two HSWs.
Eventually, they were allowed to go out of the jail and were taken back to the embassy shelter. “We want justice for what had happened to us. We will not go for any settlement and we hope that the embassy will help us in our fight,” stressed Rhea.
Meanwhile, Philippine Consul General Raul Dado told the Arab Times that on allegations that the employer connived with Embassy lawyers to settle the case, the Embassy reiterates the “ No Settlement” policy it has followed since the Embassy Legal Desk was established in 2013. “Apparently, there has been some misunderstanding between the wards and the case officers and this happens once in a while. But we assure that our ATNU is like a fighting unit with the wards, the NGOs and the media against these abuses. We are not bogging down. With that, we give the assurance with the cooperation of all the Filipino organizations and the Kuwait legal system. We have filed a case. We are not settling. We have been fighting for these cases and we will never give up,” stressed Dado.