Household service workers get counselling, training after abuse
After suffering verbal and physical abuse to harassment and sexual abuse, Filipino domestic workers in the UAE are offered counselling with utmost confidentiality
Distressed household service workers (HSWs) suffer different types of abuses ranging from verbal and physical harassment, interpersonal conflict, and sexual abuse when they come to the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centre (MWOFRC).
One had burns on her chest and another jumped off a moving car just to escape her employer.
This was disclosed by Dr Rommel Sergio, a psychologist who conducts free counselling programmes at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai, to Khaleej Times.
He said: "Our group of counsellors visited POLO-Dubai (Philippine Overseas Labour Office-Dubai) in Ramadan and we touched on some very sensitive issues confronting the HSWs. Cases range from verbal and physical abuse to harassment, interpersonal conflict, and sexual abuse. Some of them (HSWs) were not given any opportunity to go home, even if they are entitled to, so unfair labour practice comes into the picture."
"Any counseling scenario is conducted with utmost confidentiality. But what was saddening to me was when an HSW had some bruises as a result of physical abuse, one was not allowed to go home even after her parents died and her only son was at the hospital," he added.
Sergio noted that the victims would require empowerment by employing positive psychology. "This means that we have to show them the other side of the story - that they are capable of solving their own problems. We give them encouragement that there is still hope amid all of their challenges," he explained.
"One good thing with our government is that they are really committed in helping these runaway victims. The UAE federal law on domestic workers, on the other hand, can always protect the interests of the victims and penalise the offenders. This will be a breakthrough in terms of labour and human rights protection and this will definitely reduce the cases of abuse in any form," Sergio noted.
Meanwhile, Philippine Labour Attaché to Dubai and Northern Emirates, Felicitas Bay, said the condition of the distressed maids at MWOFRC is "generally okay."
"Some would get impatient to retrieve their passport but the ATN (Assistance to the Nationals) and POLO staff explain to them procedure," she added.
Bay added that the women at the centre are productive. "They are not idle. We have wellness programmes, counselling sessions, training like basic first aid, basic reflexology, cooking, sewing, knitting and haircutting lessons," she enumerated.
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes added: "We want them to learn new skills so once they return home, they will have new abilities, can look for other jobs and hopefully will not go work abroad again."
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