What were they thinking?
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - December 17, 2015 - 9:00am

We tend to look up at Singapore. Singapore has always had this squeaky-clean image, with harsh penalties for those who break even the smallest of laws, such as littering and smoking out of place. Many countries strive for what Singapore has achieved - prosperity, cleanliness, discipline. Tourists would do well to follow their laws, lest they suffer the harsh penalties such as caning, or even death. We all remember the Flor Contemplacion case. So what in the world was this couple thinking?

A Singaporean couple is now facing charges of violating its Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, where employers must maintain their employee's welfare. Thelma Oyasan Gawidan was able to escape her employers, after more than a year of being severely maltreated. With the help of HOME, a non-profit organization that helps migrant workers, she filed a complaint against her employers. Based on her testimony, she was only fed instant noodles twice a day for over a year. Sometimes she would be given an occasional vegetable or a miniscule piece of meat, but that only meant less for the next meal. Because of her severe undernourishment, she now only weighs in at twenty-nine kilograms. Those of you still not into the metric system, twenty-nine kilograms is around sixty-four pounds. My very young niece is heavier than she is.

Aside from this, she was only allowed to shower twice a week, and they made sure she did not use any hot water. She was made to work odd hours, and slept in a storeroom. The employers seemed to monitor her every move, making sure she toed the line, so to speak. Normally you would hear stories of abused OFWs from other countries such as the Middle East. This only proves that monsters come from all over the globe.

If found guilty, the couple could face up to a year in jail, and fined around SGD 10,000 or around three hundred thirty thousand pesos. All that for maltreating, starving a human being. No caning? I guess for this couple, the thought of having to shell out money is punishment enough. But honestly, I think the punishment should be harsher. This is practically a human rights violation.

This is the kind of reality our OFWs may have to endure if unlucky enough to be employed by monsters. We can only be glad that the Singaporean government acted on this case. Some are not so fortunate. There are countries that tend to even blame the OFW for the crimes committed against them. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) strives to protect our overseas workers from abuse and maltreatment. But there will be those who are undetected, especially if the host government is not very cooperative. We always hope for the best for our OFWs, who work for their families back home. And even with incidents such as this, it does not serve as a deterrent to those who will work for a better life for their families and themselves. This is why they are called heroes.  korina_abs@yahoo.com

 

A SINGAPOREAN AROUND COUPLE EMPLOYERS EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGN MANPOWER ACT EVEN FLOR CONTEMPLACION MIDDLE EAST OVERSEAS WORKERS WELFARE ADMINISTRATION SINGAPOREAN THELMA OYASAN GAWIDAN
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