Filipina maid trafficked to US by Kuwaiti envoy

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 14 2012 04:29 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2012 12:29 AM

NEW YORK – Fifty-two year-old Filipina domestic worker Dema Ramos recounted what she went through as an employee of an unnamed Kuwaiti diplomat she accused of human trafficking and wage theft.

“Gusto kong iparating sa buong mundo na yung nangyari sa akin dapat malaman nila. Yung experience kong iyon masakit sa kalooban. Nag-tatrabaho ako maayos na alam kong hindi sapat yung ibinabayad ng employer ko,” said Ramos.

After working for the Kuwaiti diplomat in Lebanon since 2006, Ramos said her employer reportedly slipped her into the US as a babysitter in 2009. She was promised a salary of $500 dollars a month.

After eight months working at the diplomat’s Manhattan home as a domestic helper, Ramos said she worked more than 20 hours a day, taking care of 5 kids, and was only earning 69 cents an hour without overtime pay.

“Ang pinaka-masakit pa duon, nag-papahinga ka na, tatawagin ka pa nila na uutusan ka mag-trabaho ulit. Masakit sa kalooban ko, masakit talaga, masakit,” said Ramos.

With pressure from immigrant rights groups like the Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Ramos’ attorney from the Urban Justice Center said, the Kuwaiti diplomat offered a settlement even before Ramos filed a lawsuit.

“I can’t say much, I’m sorry, I will say that we were very pleased with the settlement, Dema is very pleased with the settlement and it will allow her to start a new life in the United States,” said Nicole Hallet, Urban Justice Center Attorney.

As victim of human trafficking, Ramos received a T-Visa from the United States Immigration and Customs Service last March and is now working as a domestic worker in Manhattan. She can’t wait to bring her husband and five kids to the US and start over.

Ramos, together with the Damayan Migrant Workers Association and the Urban Justice Center are calling on the Philippine Consulate to enact stronger anti-trafficking reforms.

Linda Oalican of Damayan said, “We want a resource center where domestic workers — yung mga kapatid natin na nata-traffic na makakuha ng tulong for emergency housing, medical, legal and emergency counseling.”

On September 21, Ramos, together with immigrant rights activists, is scheduled to protest in front of the Philippine Consulate on 5th Ave. in New York to demand action from the Philippine Government.