x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Group helps abused maid to escape

A Filipina maid who claimed she was being abused by her employer and had not been paid in three years has been rescued by a group dedicated to helping domestic workers.

The former housemaid Caridad Cosmod, 32, in the Dubai women’s shelter.
The former housemaid Caridad Cosmod, 32, in the Dubai women’s shelter.

DUBAI // Caridad Cosmod claims she has been beaten, been burnt with an iron, worked seven days a week and not been paid since starting as a housemaid three years ago.

The Filipina, 32, arrived in Umm Al Qaiwain from Bohol in 2008 to work as a maid for an Emirati family.

Last Thursday, she fled her employer's home in an escape planned by Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International, a group dedicated to aiding domestic workers.

"I didn't receive a single dirham," she said yesterday from a women's shelter in Dubai. "My employer also didn't give me any day off since August 2008."

Ms Cosmod said her employers told her they were sending money to her sister Lucena Miranda, 47, in Caloocan City in the Philippines.

"I didn't see any receipt but I was told it was about Dh100 to Dh200 each month," said Ms Cosmod, who signed a contract in the Philippines stating she would receive US$400 (Dh1,470) a month.

She claimed she was beaten regularly by her female employer and that on one occasion her employer burnt her back with a hot iron.

She sent photos of her bruises to the Dubai chapter of Sangguniang Masang Pilipino (Council of the Filipino Masses) using her mobile when she was allowed access to it.

On Thursday, after five months of checking out her employer's home, members of the group organised her escape. The Filipino organisation is dedicated to tracking down Filipinos caught up in human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

"We asked our contact in Umm Al Qaiwain to drive her to Sharjah City Centre," said Ibrahim Robel Beltran, 40, a hotel security manager who joined the group when it was set up in October last year.

Ms Cosmod left her employer's home at 10pm on Thursday and arrived at the shopping mall 30 minutes later. At 10.55pm, the group's members dropped her off at the Philippine consulate in Al Qusais.

"I'm still scared but I feel safe and much better now," she said.

After investigating Ms Cosmod's case, including checks on the Sharjah agency that recruited her, the group forwarded its information to Filipino labour and welfare officials in Dubai, Mr Beltran says.

The group works closely with Amilbahar Amilasan, the labour attaché in Dubai. Once rescued, maids stay at the Filipino Workers Resource Centre, managed by officials at the Philippine overseas labour office. There are 55 women and three toddlers at the shelter.

"We leave it to the officials to help her file a complaint and seek compensation," Mr Beltran said.

Mr Amilasan said his office would contact her agency and work on her repatriation.

"We'll try our best to help her," he said. "If all else fails, we'll send her home. That's what she wants."

Ms Cosmod said: "I can't thank them enough. I just want to return home to see my family and visit a doctor."