x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arrested Filipinas still in jail

Many part-time workers remain in jail since their December 10 arrest.

DUBAI // Most of the 161 women arrested last year for working part-time at a December 10 wedding reception in Dubai World Trade Centre remain in jail.

A Filipina organiser for one of the catering companies involved in the sweep, who spent six weeks in jail and spoke on condition of anonymity, said 125 of the women are in detention at the immigration jail.

"Many of them are worried for their families back home," she said. "They're depressed and are waiting for the court to decide on their case. Many still want to work here, while some said they hope to get free air tickets to the Philippines."

Last week the Philippine consul general, Benito Valeriano, said charges for violating the UAE's residency and labour laws were still being heard by the court.

"They were divided into three groups," he said. "Their cases are being heard separately and several of them have been temporarily released and still need to attend the hearings."

Fifteen of the women who were released were on their brother's or husband's visas.

"They have violated the country's laws and we can only appeal for leniency," he said. "Instead of asking them [Filipinas] to pay fines, we hope the authorities will allow them to leave the country."

The introduction of part-time work permits at the start of the year will be a welcome relief for housewives, who can now take on freelance jobs without fearing arrest.

The December 10 sweep involved five catering and party services companies that hired the women, who were on their husband's visas, valid or expired tourist visas, and housemaid visas, said the anonymous source, a 51-year-old organiser who hired 38 of the part-timers.

Others had their own employment visas but wanted to earn extra funds by working part-time for catering companies.

rruiz@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Ola Salem