Monday, January 28, 2008

Domestic Abuse Rampant in Jordan

Amid Claims of Widespread Abuse, the Philippines Bans its Citizens from Migrating to Jordan for Work

From the BBC:

The Philippines has banned its citizens from going to Jordan to work amid claims of widespread abuse of domestic staff by Jordanian employers.

The move affects Filipinos who want to go to Jordan for the first time, not those already working in the country. The ban, which came into force on Monday, is only now becoming public.

Inside the Philippine embassy in the capital, Amman, more than 150 Filipino workers, most of them women, have taken refuge from abusive employers. The notice posted on the front door of the embassy is clear: no more workers will be allowed to come from the Philippines to Jordan until further notice.

Unpaid wages

The crimes committed against them include non-payment of wages, physical abuse and even rape. Meetings between officials from the Philippine embassy and the Jordanian government are being held to try to solve the problem. According to Jordanian government statistics, there are 70,000 foreign domestic workers in the country. About 15,000 of them come from the Philippines.

From Business Week:

The Philippines has imposed an indefinite ban on the deployment of workers to Jordan because of growing reports of maids being mistreated and abused there, officials said Wednesday.

Ban Imposed

The ban took effect Monday on the order of Labor Secretary Arturo Brion, said Rosalinda Baldoz, head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. "I received an order to stop the deployment of (workers) to Jordan, and this is because of the growing number of Filipinos in distress," Baldoz told a press conference. She said the country's labor attache in Jordan has reported that between 120 and 150 Filipino workers, mostly maids, have fled their employers and sought refuge at a Philippine-run center in Amman.

The ban is only for newly hired workers and does not apply to workers returning to "good-standing" employers in Jordan, Baldoz added.

There are 16,274 Filipinos currently working in Jordan. Some 8 million Filipinos -- or nearly 10 percent of the Philippines' population of about 90 million -- work overseas. Aside from Jordan, the Philippines has also banned the deployment of workers to Nigeria, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

From GMA News:

Jordan Government Uninformed of Ban

Jordanian labor ministry officials said Wednesday that the Philippine government did not inform them of the decision to ban the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to Jordan.
A report by the Jordan Times said that Labor ministry secretary general Majed Habashneh met with Philippine ambassador to Jordan on Wednesday to discuss the issue on abuse that resulted in dozens of Filipino workers seeking refuge at the embassy.

The Parliament Building in Amman, Jordan

In that meeting, ministry officials reminded the Philippine ambassador of the importance of coordination in addressing the workers’ complaints in a way that is beneficial to all parties involved, the report said. The report quoted Habashneh as saying, "We also briefed the ambassador on the Jordanian domestic helper recruitment agency and the Jordanian employers."

Culture Shock

The Philippine ambassador expressed his understanding and willingness to work for a compromise in the interest of all parties, the report added.

An official of the Domestic Helpers Agencies Association (DHAA) said that most common complaints of the workers were ill-treatment and work overload.
But the DHAA believed that the real reason why the helpers wanted to leave their employers were homesickness and cultural differences between Jordan and the Philippines.

The group said that since early 2007, a total of 200 Filipino domestic helpers, on several occasions, sought refuge at their embassy, and that majority them had been working in Jordan for less than a year.

History of Abuse

In 1990, the Philippines also imposed a deployment ban to Jordan due to high cases of maltreatment and exploitation committed by Jordanian employers.

However, in 2005, the labor department ordered the lifting of the ban with the opening of a Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Amman and the implementation of a “special work contract" which provides liberal welfare provisions to foreign household service workers.

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are preparing for the possible repatriation of the 120 to 150 distressed OFWs in Jordan.


1) Why is international labor migration important to the Philippines (and developing countries around the world)?

2) How does international labor migration relate to trafficking?


  1. Anonymous1:12 PM

    The government should do something about this. i just watch abscbn night show (TJ Manotoc)about the different faces of human trafficking...What are they doing? even bahay kalinga they have in jordan are not helping them, but instead they even push filipino women to goback to their agency inspite of all maltration, and physical abuse , sexual abuse that they had experience....How can we help them , cause if our government are not doing anything about their conditions, i supposed all of us filipino should help them.

  2. Anonymous9:26 PM

    I have seen the special report by Tj Monotoc Filipino Women abused in Jordan...How come the government arent helping them they also helping our economy through remittances they sent to their family. They are the "Bagong Bayani" statement from the philippine Government is that what they called Heroes being maltreated by foriegn people???? What the hell are those Ambassador that are assign in Jordan doing we are PAYING them with our own MONEY by taxes that we pay....Ambassador GARCIA how would you feel if one of your family was the one being mistreated by Jordian & no body help them what would you feel??? Mr. Garcia is a TRAITOR in our country for not Helping our fellow filipino in Jordan

  3. Anonymous9:26 PM

    I have seen the special report by Tj Monotoc Filipino Women abused in Jordan...How come the government arent helping them they also helping our economy through remittances they sent to their family. They are the "Bagong Bayani" statement from the philippine Government is that what they called Heroes being maltreated by foriegn people???? What the hell are those Ambassador that are assign in Jordan doing we are PAYING them with our own MONEY by taxes that we pay....Ambassador GARCIA how would you feel if one of your family was the one being mistreated by Jordian & no body help them what would you feel??? Mr. Garcia is a TRAITOR in our country for not Helping our fellow filipino in Jordan

  4. Anonymous10:33 AM


    Abuse across all of the usual grounds and in particular for sexual exploitation is rife in jordan. The biggest sufferers of this practice are the Phillipina workers.

    A number of very dodgy employment agencies for domestic helpers operate in Jordan. The worst of these are operated by Jordanians who have either Phillipina wives or employees. The arrange for the candidate to travel from Manila after considerable fees have been paid by the candidate for registration and other fees have been paid by the prospective employer in Jordan. Nowadays the prospective employer is often duped by some agencies into thinking an employee has just arrived or is coming from her home country but she has in fact been forced to run away from her previous employer then been subjected paying the agency substantial fees often in excess of a thousand dollars or Jordanian Dinars. Once re employed this employee then becomes extremely vulnerable when the new employer becomes aware the girl has no papers. The employer then offers to arrange documents and a visa but never does often taking more money from the desperate employee for this purpose. The biggest offenders in this way are allegedly so called upper class Jordanians and it has been reported that a small number of foreigners have acted in this way even high ranking staff at the American Embassy.

    Most Jordanian employers withold the passports of their employees against all local law provisions. the Jordanian authorities do nothing to change this pracice. When the Phillipinas run away in desperation often from terrible abuse, sexual, physical and often serious mental/psycological abuse the employer often referred to by authorities as the "owner" makes a runaway report to the police and the runaway is immediately criminalised by law and subject to arrest when found, the employer being alerted to the same. Nowadays the emplyers often force the girl to runaway by making a false allegation of theft and demanding money in damages. Often police go about this task with considerable zeal.

    The runaway is then without documentation and often without any residence rights as the employer more often then not has not registered the employee for immigration/visa purposes and has witheld salaries. If caught the runaway will be held in prison for many months before deportation. Nowadays police in Amman in particular are knocking on doors in areas with high Phillipina populations and asking for residence documentation. I have heard of individual cases where the undocumented Phillipina worker has then been forced to provide sexual favours for the policeman in return for not getting arrested. This practice is unfortunately becoming more common.

    More and more Phillipinas are attempting to work for employers as shop workers and in restaraunts. A small minority of these empployers do indeed treat their workers very well often giving them the same salary etc as Jordanians. But again to stress these good employers are very much in the minority. Most employers exploit the employees paying them weel below the usual wage norms and forcing them to work long hours. It has become the usual practice for employers to deduct two days wages from any employee who takes a day off sick or fails to turn up to work. Overtime is paid at a flat normal hourly rate and is obligatory.

    Young Phillipina women who are not lucky enough to find employment no matter how badly paid are nowadays sucked into the sex industry often trafficked internally within Jordan by locals who through the use of Phillipina middle men and women with the use of ingenious methods and lies. The young girls usually end up several years later old and sick before their time, mentally broken but still trapped in Jordan by virtue of their situation. These girls live in a desperate situation without any safeguards of any kind. They live in the constant fear of deportation and this often happens when the trafficker or sex industry employer reports them to police when promised salaries or documentation fails to appear. These girls are truly desperate often young single mothers supporting children and often whole families in their home countries. It is also fair to say a small minority take to the sex industry like ducks to water but by and large the overall majority are tricked into it often by other Phillipinas acting on the behalf of their masters and recieving monetary rewards for the same. When documentation is not arranged the girl runs up considerable debt and "overstay" which is the financial levy sanctioned by the Government on foreigners who overstay their visas. In the case of many Phillipinas this can run into several thousand Dinars and the possibility of their being able to pay these penalties on pitiful or not existent salaries does not exist thus increasing their vulnerability to exploitation. These sex workers are often forced to prostitute themselves in a foced indenture type employment often recieving no monies other than meals or being forced to hand over large sums of money for arranging documentation and visas that never materialise.

    Yes the Phillipines Embassy in Amman is doing a lot to help and the runaways by providing emergency accomodation at the embassy annexe. This consists of the most basic accomodation and food. I must stress that this rudimentary accomodation is under severe pressure housing as many as one hundred and fifty persons mainly women and a number of children some being newborn babies. These residents cannot leave the accomadation block for fear of arrest and these ladies more often than not do not have basic perosnal hygeine items such as sanitary towels and babies nappies. The young women at this address are often targeted by the sex industry due to the desperate situation they are in and are often encouraged and tricked to run away from the residence by Phillipina "mama sans", or other Phillipina's who have been forced to work as sex workers. This in the past has been achieved with the connivance of certain staff at the embassy. The girls are often tricked into thinking they will be working as a barmaid or waitress but this job never materialises. There are a small number of so called bars and restaraunts within Jordan which are actually well known fronts for prostitution. While it is generaly accepted that the Embassy is giving a certain amount of assistance I can observe that it is truly overwhelmed by the amount of runaways and undocumented workers seeking assistance. Yes it is also fair to say the embassy welfare workers at the embassy residence have their compatriots best interests at heart but they do not have the resources to provide the basic needs of the residents and the Embassy is hampered by both local laws and the unwillingness of ex employers to surrender passports to the Embassy. Other factors can include the rigorous implementation and payment of the financial penalties for visa overstay by the Jordanians before a foreigner can leave the country without spending time in prison for visa violation/overstay. This period in prison can often mean two to three months as a convicted prisoner/criminal before deportation.

    The plight of the Phillipino workers in Jordan is desperate, no doubt about it but it will take a lot of pressure from the Embassy and a willingness by the Jordanians to enforce laws in regard to employment rights. Obviously an amnesty for undocumented workers may be a great help both to the Jordanian Government and the Phillipinas but this unfortunately is not envisaged in the near future.

    His Majesty King Abdullah has addressed this problem in some ways and along with the President of the Phillipines we can only hope that things improve but it is generally thought that this problem is very serious and at the end of the day it should get more attention as a matter of urgency afterall we are dealing with human beings who more often than not have found themselves in this desperate position through no fault of their own.

  5. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Good reporting here. However, it mentions that the taking of passports is against the policy of Jordan. The Jordan Government hires Filipinos also. They are not mistreated but the too, withohold their passports.

  6. Anonymous2:14 AM

    we must protect our filipino workers..woe to mr.garcia...oust to phl embassy ...go back to phil u r not worth the job....for the good of all you must be punish by our government

  7. Anonymous1:20 PM

    until now the owwa are protecting the agencies in Jordan that why we must need to open this kind of letter to our new President elect Nonoy AQUINO FOR SURE to give Justice for all filipina domestic helper who what to help their family, but they work with out psaid and like a carabao to work for their employer, for the all illegal recuiter they must supper for jail, and for the employies of OWWA they must quit their post because of their not doing well for the pilipino people, they do for the agencie in Jordan that give them a money for their own needs.

  8. Anonymous5:52 PM

    don't you know that the embassy here in jordan is not doing what they really need to do to help us!common my friend stayed here in jordan for 5months because the agency wants her to recontract but she dont want to recontract anymore the agency didnt book her a flight instead they let her work in the agency w/o salary she seek help from the embassy but the embassy answered that they couldnt help her!damn it check the run on agencies in the philippines they were sending a lot of pinays here in jordan promising a good job but will end up as a houes maid!the situation of dh here is so wrong can you imagine we dont have day off& no cellphones!ones a month call do you pinays will not be homesick if like this?damn that ambassador for not looking the real situation of us her in jordan! arab men they on pinays very low they only think that we are whores!i pity those piny who cant cope with our life here!