Camille (not her real name) has been in prison since August last year after her employer turned her over to authorities because she got pregnant out of wedlock by a co-worker who raped her.
Camille, who lived with her in Quezon City, went to Dammam on May last year to work as a janitor in a dental clinic on a two-year contract, the victim’s mother told GMANews.TV in an interview.
Three months into the job, a co-worker – a Bangladeshi national – raped her.
But Camille chose to keep quiet, fearing her rapist would kill her if she reports the incident.
In September, after undergoing a medical check-up – a requirement before she decided to return to the Philippines – she discovered she was pregnant and was reported to Saudi authorities by no less than her employer.
However, hard life in Hafr Al-Baten prison caused the miscarriage of her daughter’s four-month-old baby in December, Camille’s mother said.
Although Camille was able to go to the hospital, she was sent to prison immediately after.
The Shari’ah or Islamic law imposes imprisonment for women who get pregnant out of wedlock and, after giving birth, a penalty of lashes to be determined by courts before being freed.
The law applies even to victims who claim to have been raped.
Camille, 35 years old, was able to talk to her mother Monday night, during which she asked for help from back home.
“Sabi niya, sana makauwi na raw siya. Hindi ko naman alam kung ano ang gagawin. Hindi na ako tinawagan ng DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” the mother said.
(My daughter said she wishes to be sent home as soon as possible, but I don’t know what to do. The DFA has not called me back.)
The mother added that Camille’s case would still have to be heard in a Saudi Arabian court this January, according to the DFA. The exact dates of the hearings, and Camille’s fate in the
meantime, remain uncertain, she added.
“Natatakot siya ngayon kasi ganoon ang nangyari sa mga kasama niya sa kulungan, mga ibang lahi, nilalatigo nang 100 pagkapanganak,” the mother said.
(She now fears getting 100 lashes because that’s what happened to her fellow prisoners who are of different nationalities after giving birth.)
“It is really saddening that instead of arresting and punishing the rapist, it was Camille who was charged with [having an] ‘illicit affair’ and brought to the Saudi authorities by her employer,” said Gina Esguerra, secretary general of the migrants’ rights group Migrante International.
Camille’s mother also disclosed that the ordeal has angered Camille’s three children in the Philippines, aged 15, 14, and five years old.
“Galit na galit sila. Naaawa rin sila sa nangyari sa Mama nila (They are enraged. They also pity their mother for what happened to her),” Camille’s mother said.
Camille’s children have also stopped going to school since money remittance from their mother, the family’s only source of income, ceased in September last year.
Camille previously worked as a domestic helper in Dubai, but she had problems with her employer who did not feed her, according to the mother.
Migrante is currently in coordination with the DFA to assist Camille, Esguerra said. – RJAB Jr./GMANews.TV
Sama-sama pa rin sa walang-humpay na pagtulong!