x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Refuge 'could have helped housemaid'

A Filipina maid who fled her employer in 2009 could have prevented her arrest and deportation this month if she had taken the proper channels.

DUBAI // A housemaid could have prevented her arrest and deportation last week if she had remained at a Filipino-run shelter after fleeing her employers, said her sister.

Vanessa Lobete, 40, arrived back in Manila on Thursday after her February 11 arrest in Umm al Qaiwain on labour offences.

According to her sister, Maria Theresa Lobete, Vanessa arrived in the UAE in February 2009 but left her employer and sponsor in October complaining of mistreatment. She stayed in the country illegally after securing part-time babysitting work, but was arrested on a bus en route from Ras al Khaimah to Dubai.

Vanessa briefly attended a shelter run by the Filipino Workers Resource Centre, her sister said.

"My elder sister was always being beaten by her madam," said Maria Theresa, 32, a document controller in Dubai. "I helped her escape from her employer."

Vanessa had complained of being underfed and not being paid on time, said Marie Theresa.

Mary Simangan, the welfare officer in Dubai, said maids who fled their employers' homes must report to the Philippine overseas labour office within 48 hours. The office would work with their former sponsors and recruitment agencies to resolve the issues with their employers, transfer them to a new sponsor, or enable them to leave the country legally, said Ms Simangan.