A labor-recruitment expert has confirmed the rampant “sale” of Filipino household service workers (HSW) in Saudi Arabia, with each domestic worker being sold and exchanged from one employer to the next like an ordinary commodity.
The sale mostly takes place in the city of Riyadh, where “sellers” take advantage of the 100-day probation period before maids of various nationalities are transferred to various employers by the sponsor, or a Middle East national who manages to get control of a worker’s working permit called iqama, according to recruitment consultant Manny Geslani.
“The maids have completely no control of where they are going to be sold or transferred by their sponsors,” he said.
According to prevailing laws, the transfer of a Filipina HSWs should be with the consent of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo).
Geslani said the Polo officer should be able to monitor the HWS’s whereabouts, which is also a responsibility of the foreign recruitment agency (FRA).
“It is the FRA 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 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA] regulations,” he added.
This was the case of HSW Hydee Caro, who arrived in Manila on April 18, 2017, from Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, purchasing her own ticket to go back to the Philippines.
This was after she worked for 11 months in Riyadh and sold thrice to different households.
“There was an unforgettable incident when I was nearly gang raped by a group of nationals there,” Caro recalled her incident before Geslani, adding that the horror of the incident was still vivid in her mind.
Caro has filed a complaint with the POEA against her local recruitment agency, whom she identified as First Personnel Services Inc., for failing to monitor her situation and taking steps to ensure her safety in her job site in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia.
The POEA has scheduled conciliatory meetings with Caro and her agency to determine the nature of the FRA’s violation, and the amount of compensation due to her, as stipulated in her two-year contract.
Caro said she applied with First Personnel Services Inc. in Ermita last year and was deployed immediately to Al-Robaegh in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia.
The employer reportedly failed to give her food and was subsisting on frozen peas.
When she complained, her employer brought her to the police station and accused her of stealing valuables.
After spending four days in jail at the police station, Caro was released to a certain Abdulaziz who reportedly paid her previous employer 22,000 riyals.
After two months, however, she said she was sold to another Saudi household, a certain Naif, who made numerous sexual advances to her.
Caro strongly resisted, even threating the man with a knife. However, when she could no longer stand the numerous sexual advances, she reported the incident to Naif’s wife.
But, instead of getting mad at her husband, Caro said the wife called on her brothers to take her out into the desert. But Caro locked the bathroom door until the Saudi police arrived to take her into custody.
One of policemen punched Caro’s chest and dragged her by the arm to a police car. She spent another four days in jail while her records were checked, which revealed that Abdulaziz was still her legal employer.
After staying for a week at Abdulaziz’s house, Caro was again turned over to another household last November where she worked for three months. This time the household was satisfied with her performance and allowed her to return home.