02:31 GMT +320 April 2018
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    Modern slavery

    Filipina Maid Enslaved in Kuwait for Nine Years

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    A Filipino citizen working as a domestic helper in Kuwait has filed a case against her employer, claiming that she did not receive a salary for almost nine years, and was subjected to physical and emotional abuse.

    The worker, nicknamed Nena to protect her identity, was born in a poor family in Compostela, Philippines, and began working as a domestic helper for a Kuwaiti family in June 2005, when she was 26 years old.

    Four months after her employment began, her employer announced that her salary would be placed in a bank account in her name, and that she would only be able to withdraw it when she returned to the Philippines. Nena understood that she was being lied to, as she had not signed bank documents and so could have an account in her name.

    Unable to leave, her situation got worse, as she was prohibited from leaving the house, even to take out the family garbage, and denied the ability to speak with other household employees in the neighborhood. At all times, a male stayed in the house to monitor her activities.

    Her employees also abused her verbally and physically, using the excuse that was not doing her job properly.

    Nena was not permitted to use her mobile phone, and so relatives in the Philippines thought she was dead. For the same reason she could not call the embassy for help.

    She explained that she was too weak and afraid to attempt an escape. She reported that she had overheard a conversation between her employer and his sons in which he told them to kill her or hit her hard on the head if she tried to run away.

    An opportunity for escape came, however, in 2015, when a newly-hired housemaid managed to acquire a mobile phone with a SIM card from the Philippines. The woman called Nena's family, who, in turn, contacted the embassy in Kuwait.

    In August 2015 Nena and the other maid were rescued by the Assistance to National Units of Embassy. Nena has remained at the embassy since that time.

    "I only got four months of [pay during] the nine years with my employer," she told Kuwait Times.

    There are thought to be over 600,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait. While the majority are said to be treated fairly, thousands face regular abuse, unpaid salaries and harsh working conditions.    


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