29/09/2021, 19:26

Fragile dreams: Stories of migrant workers from the Philippines: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Asia

FES in Asia

27.09.2021

Fragile dreams: Stories of migrant workers
from the Philippines
Future of Work

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Migrant workers from the Philippines leave home full of hopes and dreams; unknown to
them are hidden costs of migration that can break their spirit. But help is sometimes at
hand, at least for some of them.

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27.09.2021 | Future of Work | News

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual violence

Fragile dreams: Stories of
migrant workers from the
Philippines

Over 10 million Filipinos work overseas. FES Philippines, together with the Center for
Migrant Advocacy (CMA), is collecting international stories of migrant workers in a bid to
popularize migrant issues. These are the stories of Jennifer, Jose and Mona:

(/news/philippines-migrant-workers)
Migrant workers from the Philippines
leave home full of hopes and dreams;
unknown to them are hidden costs of

Jennifer, 31, gripped the pregnancy test tightly.

migration that can break their spirit....
more Information (/news/philippinesmigrant-workers)

It had been three months since the sexual abuse began. Back home, when she got her
confirmation of work abroad, her mind had filled with possibilities. This wasn’t one of them.
She exhaled and looked at the test. Two lines were slowly forming, indicating a positive
result.
Back in the Philippines, Jennifer lived with her parents and her three young children with
little to no support from her estranged husband. Like many other Filipino migrant workers,
Jennifer went out of the country packed with hopes and dreams; unknown to them are
hidden costs of migration that can break their spirit.
She was deployed to Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker in April 2019 with a two-year
contract, but within months, she found herself begging to be sent home.
Jennifer was sexually harassed by her male employer. She refused to work and pleaded
with her agency to send her home. This would waste the hefty amount they paid to place
her, her agency said, and could not allow it.

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“My whole world came crashing down. I thought about my children back in the Philippines
and what my family will say about me.” said Jennifer about her pregnancy in an interview
conducted by CMA.

Gender-based violence
They sent her to a new employer instead in Lebanon to continue her contract of work as a
domestic worker. Jennifer painfully remembered how close she was to the two-year-old
child she was taking care of, but this was taken advantage of by her male employer.
Jennifer saying no went unheard as her abuser escalated his own attempts. Her co-workers
noticed the abuse, yet they remained silent, scared to lose their jobs. Jennifer begged her
abuser to let her leave, but it was a time when cities all over the world were implementing
community quarantines. COVID-19 cases were rising at an alarming rate. He used this as
an excuse to trap her.
Because of the pandemic, cases of gender-based violence among migrant workers are
increasing (https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/in-focus-gender-equality-incovid-19-response/violence-against-women-during-covid-19?
gclid=CjwKCAjw9aiIBhA1EiwAJ_GTSpstmXupPggdKomYfxnPj4cw7YZh36lKuguc-C0vtIyfI3Z4NauUxoCwA0QAvD_BwE#facts). Locked down in their abusive homes, they
are unable to report or escape these harrowing situations.
Jennifer wanted to abort her pregnancy. She was promised abortion pills, but they never
came. During one of the many nights she was harassed, the act was finally recorded and
reported to support groups enough to facilitate a rescue. She stayed in a shelter for almost
three months before she was sent back home.

https://asia.fes.de/news/philippines-migrant-workers

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