Word from the Institute

View Archive

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Still a big problem

Word from the Institute - July 2014 By Prof. Nene Pimentel

Fatima, a 13-year old girl from General Santos City, was reportedly trafficked to Saudi Arabia three months ago by a duly-licensed recruitment agency.

The recruitment agency landed her a job as a “maid” with a family in Saudi Arabia in April of this year.

Her employer turned out to be barbaric.

She was subjected to horrific physical beatings that included banging her head against the wall, pouring boiling water on her back, chaining her to a bed, and trusting pointed objects into her genitals. All because, she reportedly was not able to measure up to her employer’s standards of house keeping.

Whose fault is it that this girl was trafficked into brutal servitude in Saudi Arabia?

The “fault, dear Brutus, is,” (firstly) “in our stars’.

Policy wise, there are supposed to be rules that ban the deployment of girl house helps below the age of 23 especially to foreign lands.

Nonetheless, the recruitment agency was able to recruit the girl, ferry her to Saudi Arabia, and put her into the hands of her barbarous employer?

The people, then, who criminally participated in getting Fatima into the horrible situation in which she found herself in Saudi Arabia are principally at fault at the local level.

Then, of course, whoever inflicted those horrendous acts of cruelty on her must be sanctioned by Saudi Arabian authorities.

The problem is that our norms of civilized conduct may not apply to a country like Saudi Arabia that seems hardly capable - up to this very date - of getting the norms of democratic government into place. 

What about the UN? The UN has its hands full with the war on terror in many places of the globe, it is well-nigh impossible to hope that crimes against the likes of a 13-year old unknown, like Fatima, would ever get its attention.

Anyway, the authorities of our country should bring Fatima’s plight to the attention of responsible UN agencies.

Essentially, however, the ball is in our hands. Poverty that consumes the energies of between 30 to 40 million of our people needs to be attended to with focus by the government.

The Center knows of no other cogent reason why Fatima ventured on her own juvenile mind or, perhaps, even on the prodding of her family to risk her inexperienced self with the unknown but to earn money to help her own kith and kin.

Hence, poverty and its terrible toll on human dignity needs priority attention by our authorities.

If we are able to reduce poverty to manageable levels, or even eliminate it outright, then, there would be no need for our Fatimas to undergo indescribable pain just to earn a living for themselves or their families.

To this end, the people must also do their part. Electing people who know what their government jobs require, and demanding that they do their jobs to promote the common good cannot be left to the stars in the heavens.

We, the people, have to do part of the work needed to transform this nation. And the work must begin with ourselves.   

[Note: as of early this month, Fatima escaped from her employers and was brought to Bahay Kalinga in the Philippine Embassy compound in Saudi Arabia. Her ordeal was brought to light by Muffy, a Filipina Muslim, who’s into voluntary humanitarian work in Saudi Arabia, and Eddie Calderon, who is a blogger par excellence].