By Liza Soriano
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to set up additional support systems for female migrant workers who endure gender-based abuse from their employers and recruitment firms, particularly those who are pregnant.
Women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are frequently the targets of “severe abuse,” according to the senator who chairs the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.
“There is an increase in employment of female migrant workers, particularly in gender-based occupations and sectors such as domestic work, entertainment, garments industry, and electronic assembly. We need stronger mechanisms to help protect them throughout the whole process, mula sa recruitment hanggang deployment at repatriation,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros mentioned tragic instances of Filipina domestic employees being forced to have abortions by their recruitment firms when it was discovered that they were pregnant during the inaugural budget hearing of the recently established government agency.
“I’m just hoping and confident na DMW will look into the more detailed circumstances nito para maproteksyunan ang ating mga kababayan laban sa ganyang mga forced abortion,” she said.
Hontiveros revealed instances of trafficking of human beings and forced abortions among female OFWs during the 18th Congress.
The senator extended help to an illegally trafficked female OFW who was forced by her agency to terminate her pregnancy before heading to war-torn Syria. Another female domestic worker in Saudi Arabia, Hontiveros said, also experienced the same fate.
“I would like to know, how equipped are our shelters abroad in caring for pregnant OFWs in situations of distress? Mayroon po ba tayong protective care para maituloy ang pregnancy? Doon naman sa natuloy na yung forced abortion, kaya ba siyang suportahan kung gusto niyang habulin ang hustisya laban sa kanyang recruitment agency o employer?” she asked.