A Church researcher yesterday said reports of a Filipina maid’s detention in Dubai for giving birth without proof of marriage shows the government’s weakness in supporting women workers in the Middle East.
Maruja Asis, director of research and publications at theScalabrini Migration Center (SMC), told ucanews.com the potential of laws, aimed at enhancing protection of migrant workers, has not been realized because of the lack of enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.
“Women have difficulties going out on their own. If they are living with a male companion, they must have proof when caught by religious authorities to show that they are legally married,” Asis said.
A Philippine maid working in the UAE was recently detained and faces a court hearing for failing to show proof of marriage after giving birth to a child.
The domestic worker came to Dubai in 2009, was not paid by her employer after three months, and then sought the help of the Philippine embassy.
When her employer cancelled her residency visa she looked for another job in Dubai, where her Filipino husband had been working for three years. The woman moved in with a friend in Rashidiya after her husband left Dubai to renew his visa.
On May 2, she gave birth to a boy at the Al Wasl Hospital. She remains in detention with her baby until she gets a copy of her marriage contract.
The woman reportedly told public prosecutors she was married five years ago and never had an illicit affair.
Asis cited a joint study of SMC and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies published this year that found risks and vulnerabilities to migrant workers, particularly to women, continue to exist despite various measures to protect them.
“Many departing migrant workers were not aware of basic work rights and government regulations…. Knowing the right information is crucial to workers’ empowerment but policies are not properly communicated to stakeholders,” researchers have found.
UAE was the 3rd most popular destination for Philippine household service workers, with 13,184 workers arriving there in 2010, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Overseas Filipino Workers from the UAE contributed more than US$775,000 of a total of $18.76 billion in remittances in 2010.