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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Migrante calls for urgent rescue of 20 Pinays in Saudi harem

In a press conference held in a restaurant in Quezon City, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations revealed that 20 Filipinas are being repeatedly raped in a recruitment office in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

According to Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, two Filipina domestic helpers were just rescued this Tuesday, June 23, 2009. The OFWs' rescue was facilitated by Migrante Middle East.

Prior to the rescue, the said Pinay OFWs were allegedly being held in the office of Maqpoon Belahodood General Service Company, a recruitment agency owned and being managed by a certain Abu Khalid. The said domestic helpers are now staying in the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia.

"Two domestic helpers who were recently rescued were able to tell us by phone of their harrowing ordeal while still in the hands of their Arab recruiter. The said victims were raped by Abu Khalid and we are now very much worried of the situation of other Pinays who were left behind in the said premises. Twenty lives are at stake here and the government should act on this immediately," warns Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

The group likewise presented to the media Aileen Baldiray, a domestic helper who also stayed in Abu Khalid's recruitment office last May and gave a detailed account of their plight together with twenty more Filipinas.

"Abu Khalid also tried to rape me. It was about 9:00 in the evening when he summoned me to his office downstairs. Upon entering the room, he told me to sit down in front of his desk and casually told me of his sex life. When he noticed that I was already getting nervous, Abu Khalid immediately took off his clothes. I grabbed a pen that I saw in his desk and warned him that if he pursues with his evil plan I would be forced to stab him," says Ailene.

According to Aileen, Fellow Filipinas staying in the said building have already forewarned her when Abu Khalid summoned her. They too have been raped in the same office when Khalid called them regularly during the evening. They also claim that sometimes, Abu Khalid would even let his son or a friend rape them.

"Khalid became reluctant when he saw me with the pen. He then shouted at me to get out of the office and told me that I was the only Filipina in the building he was not able to 'taste' yet and that he will make sure that he will be able to rape me next time around," added Aileen.

Aileen was able to leave the premises of said agency and stayed a while in the Philippine embassy before she was repatriated back to the Philippines last June 7, 2009.

"We demand that the Arroyo administration conduct an immediate rescue mission to save the 20 Filipinas who are still being held in the harem of Abu Khalid. The Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia should also ensure that the said Filipinas be brought to a hospital for a medical treatment and that criminal cases be filed against Abu Khalid," Martinez said.

The group likewise calls on the families of the victims to contact Migrante so that the local recruitment agencies here in Manila should also be held accountable. Migrante identified the said recruitment agency as AFT Company whose office is located in Ermita, Manila.

"We likewise urge President Arroyo to put on hold its intensifying labor exportation program. The biggest number of OFWs leaving the country are domestic helpers and their main destination is Saudi Arabia, a country who doesn't even recognize the right of domestic helpers to have a day-off," Martinez concluded.

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