Runaways: Victims of Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery

By The WindChime

Just a few months ago, the Philippine government declared a ban on the recruitment of filipinas to work as domestic helpers in Jordan after reported cases of abuses perpetrated by Jordanian employers to their filipina (or Asian) domestic helpers reached an alarming proportion. Al Jazeera featured some of these cases in their international cable news network.

This week TJ Manotoc of ABS-CBN hosted a very commendable documentary about the plight of many of our filipina OFWs who are working in Jordan as domestic helper. "Runaways", which is the title of the masterpiece, tells the stories of these filipinas who are victims of the evils of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

When you see in the documentary the cruelties that these OFW domestic helpers have undergone in the hands of their employers, you can't help it but be filled with righteous indignation. But what is more outrageous are the injustices that some of these abused workers have experienced under the supposed protection of the Philippine embassy officials in Jordan.

These fragile female workers (some are still underage!) are beaten and/or raped that is why they ran away from their abusive employers and took refuge in the embassy's shelter facility hoping for humanitarian care and protection while desperately pleading for help in going home to the Philippines. But what is wrong with our embassy officials overseas (particularly in Jordan) is that instead of being on the side of their abused kababayans to protect their human rights at all cost, they instead assisted the abusive employers in taking them back for slavery.

We call our OFWs "modern-day heroes", but could we afford to let many of them continue to suffer the evils of human trafficking and modern-day slavery? According to a priest serving in Jordan, foreign female domestic workers are especially vulnerable and in constant danger because they are without equal protection under their laws. He said that in the culture of the Arabs, a practice known as "honor killing" is almost not even penalized.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Jordan is top on the list of the number of cases of abuses, followed by Lebanon and then Kuwait. There are also cases in other Arab and non-Arab countries where filipina domestic helpers are employed. In other words, where there are filipina domestic OFWs, there are cases of abuses.

This issue is so poignant, and to fully express the disgust on this matter is simply beyond words. No wonder why one senator who is aspiring for the presidency cleverly took advantage of this issue by creating an infomercial about it on television promoting his advocacy on the welfare of the OFWs.

If this aspirant senator will actually put more action into his advocacy (not just personally shouldering the cost of bringing home some of these abused OFWs) by creating concrete and effective policies that will really address the issue once and for all and push for its implementation as a demonstration of his leadership skill and political will, then he might be in for serious consideration by the people for presidency. (But he should stop using the infomercial of his advocacy to circumvent the law on premature political advertisement.)