Thursday, March 29, 2007

Zamboanga Maid Abused In Dubai Flies Back Home

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Mar) – A Filipino maid, who was abused by her employers in Dubai, is set to return to her native home in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

But the 21-year old Faija Salamat has reasons to come home happy despite her ordeal in the hands of a Kuwaiti woman and her Iraqi husband after a court in Dubai found the couple guilty.

Salamat was subjected to gratuitous torture and violence at the hands of her female Kuwaiti employer and an Iraqi man last July until her escape.

The two were jailed on February 27 having been sentenced to three years followed by deportation. They were found guilty of sexual harassment, battery and illegal detention, the Dubai-based online news site 7DAYS reported on Thursday.

The couple allegedly admitted torturing Salamat like she was a prisoner at the Abu Ghraib, a notorious U.S. military facility in Iraq.

“All I can think of now is to be with my family,” 7DAYS quoted Salamat as saying.

“I’m so excited to see my parents and my seven siblings back home. I just want to be home as soon as possible. I feel anxious - the memory of the cruel abuse continues to haunt me,” she said.

Salamat, a high school graduate, left home when she was only 18, to work as a housemaid in Kuwait in 2003 before working in Dubai eight months ago.

“I’d like to forget all about it and move on. At night, I sometimes cry myself to sleep when I remember them and the torture,” she said.

Salamat said her employers would undress her and touched her intimately and often times would stub lit cigarettes near her private parts. They also burned her with hot coals and scrub ice cubes on her body.

She said she was kept in a room for three days before forcing the door open and fleeing to the Philippine Consulate in Dubai.

“I don’t think I can forgive them for the awful things they have done to me. I hope that it will serve as a lesson for employers not to mistreat and subject maids to physical and psychological abuse,” Salamat said.

It was not immediately known where Salamat’s family is residing in Zamboanga City and the Department of Social Welfare and Development said it has to receive a report from the Philippines’ Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) about the young Muslim woman.

“We have no reports about Faija Salamat or anything about her case. We have to receive an endorsement from the OWWA so we can take an immediate action about this as soon as she arrives home,” a local social welfare assistant Maryann Boncaras told the Mindanao Examiner on Thursday. (Mindanao Examiner)

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