An overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who was scalded by her employer nearly two years ago, has sought the help of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center in her desire to come home.
“Fahima,” a resident of Pikit, North Cotabato, became the subject of news reports when a photo of the burns on her back went viral on social media.
A case of maltreatment that she filed against her Saudi Arabian employer in 2013 was dismissed by a court there, citing lack of jurisdiction.
Her employer was detained for one month but was able to obtain freedom.
In return, the employer filed a case of slander against “Fahima,” thus preventing her from leaving Saudi Arabia.
OFW advocate and Center president Susan Ople met “Fahima” at the Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh last Monday.
Labor Attache Resty dela Fuente was present during the visit.
“She wants to come home to start afresh. Unfortunately, there is a pending legal case filed by her employer that prevents her from leaving Saudi Arabia. According to ‘Fahima,’ she misses her family especially her two children,” Ople, a senatorial candidate of the Nacionalista Party in next year’s elections, said.
Dela Fuente described the scalded OFW as a quick learner and friendly toward all the other wards in Bahay Kalinga.
He also praised “Fahima” for joining all the skills training courses offered by volunteers in the Philippine Embassy shelter.
“Fahima” expressed her gratitude to the Philippine Embassy and the Office of the Labor Attache for providing her with temporary shelter and a Saudi Arabian lawyer.
She, however, noted that several other OFWs who had stayed in the shelter already left for home.
“Fahima” has been in the shelter for one year and seven months.
According to Ople, Saudi Arabian businessmen who learned about “Fahima’s” case expressed interest in trying to secure her freedom.
“The businessmen whom I met and talked to about ‘Fahima’s’ case assured me that their religion is against any form of cruelty and that includes the scalding and maltreatment of a foreign domestic worker. They requested official documents pertaining to her case so that they can raise their own concerns about the case to their government,” Ople said.
“As an OFW advocate, ‘Fahima’s’ continued stay in the embassy shelter signifies our failure as a people and as a country to stand up for her rights because she is clearly a victim of maltreatment and abuse,” she added.