Many migrant workers in the Middle East come from other countries including the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Africa and although some work in white-collar jobs the majority are hired for the menial, manual labour jobs. They work as maids, janitors, drivers, construction workers, and oftentimes their lives become a living hell. Expats and migrant workers are a crucial part of the work infrastructure in the region, they are as needed as the jobs are needed by those who often trek many miles to get there.
Most of those who are there to work as domestics travel to the gulf region to support their families back home, like 35-year-old “Camille” who had 3 children in the Philippines, 15, 14 and 5, who depended upon her salary. She moved to Saudi Arabia in the spring of 2009, to work as a janitor. Although not her real name, “Camille” was allegedly raped by a Bangladeshi co-worker. Knowing full well that victims of rape are punished in the Kingdom she opted to not inform the authorities, and chose instead to go home. Everything would have been fine, save during a physical exam that all foreign workers are obligated to get before leaving the country, it was discovered that she was pregnant. She has been jailed since September, 2009 , for having an “illicit affair” , and she lost the baby in a miscarriage while imprisoned. Now she faces 100 lashes for the crime of having been raped.
The Saudi interpretation of Sharia law does not allow pregnant women to be lashed. However, now that Camille is no longer pregnant, she may be lashed at any time by the government. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reports that the sentence will be carried out this month.
In the meantime, the Filipino government has done nothing to help one of their citizens, and this poor woman not only had to suffer in jail after being raped, she also faces being beaten.