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Rampant ‘sale’ of household workers in Saudi alarms OFWs

OVERSEAS Filipino workers said the rampant sale of household service workers (HSW) in Saudi Arabia before the 100-day probation period is dangerous and disadvantageous for Filipinos.

OFWs pointed out that Pinay HSWs being transferred to various employers by the sponsor or a national who has control of the working permit or “iqama,” has no control where she will be  “sold” or transferred.

OFWs said the transfer of Filipina HSWs must be with the consent of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to be able to monitor their whereabouts and should also be the responsibility of the foreign recruitment agency that deployed the HSW to the original sponsor.

“The transfer of an HSW to a different employer without the approval of the POLO officer is considered a violation of the Philippine-Saudi Special labor agreement and also a violation of POEA Rules,” the OFWs said.

The complaint was prompted by the return last April 18 of Hydee Caro from Buraydah, Saudi Arabia.
    
Caro said she purchased her own ticket to return home after working for 11 months. She said she was “sold” thrice to different households  and experienced a near gang-rape.
    
Caro filed a complaint with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration against her local recruitment agency First Personnel Services, Inc. for failing to monitor her situation and taking steps to ensure her safety in Buraydah.    
    
The POEA has scheduled a conciliatory meetings between Caro and the recruitment agency to determine the violations committed by the agency and the proper compensation due to Caro.
    
Caro applied with First Personnel Services, Inc. in Ermita last year and was immediately deployed to Al-Robaegh in Buraydah.
    
Caro said her employer did not give her enough food and she was fed only with frozen peas.
    
When Caro complained, her employer brought her to the police station and accused her of stealing valuables.
    
After spending four days at the police station, Caro was released to a certain Abdulaziz, who reportedly paid her previous employer 22,000 riyals.
    
In Abdulaziz household, Caro worked with another Filipina for two months.         
    
However, she was sold to another employer, a certain Naif, who made sexual advances on her.
    
Caro resisted, threatening Naif with a knife.
    
When she could no longer withstand the sexual advances, Caro complained to Naif’s wife.
    
However, the wife called her brothers to take Caro out into the desert but Caro locked herself in the bathroom until the Saudi police arrived to take her into custody.
    
A police officer punched Caro and dragged her into the police car.   She spent another four days in jail while police checked her documents, which revealed that Abdulaziz was still her legal employer.
    
When Caro’s family learned of her ordeal, they asked the First Personnel agency to repatriate her.
    
However, the agency failed to take action.  
    
The Saudi police returned Caro to Abdulaziz’ household but she was again transferred to another household where she worked for three months.
    
Fortunately, Caro’s new employer took pity on her and agreed to give her an exit visa so she could return home despite paying a huge sum to her previous employer.
    
Caro’s local agency did not help her which prompted her to buy her own ticket worth 2,050 riyals.