Brutal murder points to human rights concerns

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) implores the Aquino Administration to step-up a revitalized campaign to protect our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from discrimination and violence. The gruesome murder of a Filipino OFW in Kuwait marks a new low point in the effort to uphold the rights and protect women from all forms of abuse.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait reported that Astria Samad Abdul, a native of Maguindanao province in ARMM, was found dead on July 17 near a horse stable in Kabad desert area in Kuwait. Kuwaiti investigators alleged that Abdul was crushed to death by her employers, spouses Abdulaziz al Falekh and Rabagh Mustafa Saghala after they suspected that she was dying due to physical pains from daily maltreatment. Abdul’s body was squashed using a vehicle to give the impression that she was ran over by a motorist.

The heinous crime sparked an outcry for justice and accountability. Abdul’s death is a blow to women’s basic human right of protection from violence. Section 22 – c of R.A 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women on the Right to Decent Work affirms that the State shall ensure the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of migrant women regardless of their work status, and protect them against discrimination in wages, conditions of work, and employment opportunities in host countries.

The PCW calls upon the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide the necessary assistance to bring justice for the aggrieved family of Abdul. We demand a swift and thorough investigation of the crime. We trust that the authorities will spare no effort in bringing the culprits to trial and ensure that justice will be served.

We appeal to our legislators to make a thorough review of our existing laws and policies on the deployment of Filipinos to work overseas and the protection guaranteed to them as OFWs. An enabling environment that will give many Filipinos the opportunity to establish their own business and stay with their families in their native land has to be prioritized to discourage them from seeking work abroad which makes them vulnerable to many forms of exploitation and abuse.

Vicious crimes committed against our fellow Filipinos working abroad should never be taken lightly. No woman OFW should be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. They work abroad to provide for their family. They pour out their hearts in the service they give to their foreign employers. They are not powerless. They deserve the term we fondly call them --- bagong bayani. Heroes do not deserve cruelty and maltreatment.

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