Another Filipino domestic worker missing in Kuwait

News Philippines Aug 24, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Another Filipino domestic worker in Kuwait has been reported missing.

Filipino household service worker Ronalyn Yonting Lagawan “has been missing for 18 months now,” according to ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III.

“We’ve been advised that Ms. Lagawan’s family has lost all contact with her after she ran away from her employer in Kuwait in February 2017,” Bertiz said.

Bertiz said the Philippine embassy in Kuwait has already launched a social media campaign to find Lagawan, who went to work in Kuwait in 2015.

“We hope that she is okay and that maybe she is just afraid to surface or call her relatives,” a Philippine embassy representative in Kuwait said.

Bertiz said foreign domestic workers in Kuwait who run away from their employers risk arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by the authorities.

“We appeal to anyone who may have knowledge of her (Lagawan’s) whereabouts to directly communicate with us at the embassy because her family is worried,” the Philippine embassy representative added.

Filipinos account for a large portion of the 660,000 foreign domestic workers in Kuwait that include nationals from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Ethiopia.

In May, the governments of Kuwait and the Philippines signed an agreement meant to assure Filipino domestic workers in the oil-rich emirate greater protection against potential maltreatment.

The accord also recognizes the rights of Filipino domestic workers to have at least one day off work every week, and to have physical possession of their passports that many Kuwaiti employers tend to confiscate, among other entitlements.
The pact was reached after the Philippine government ordered in February a ban on the deployment of newly hired Filipino workers to Kuwait.

The prohibition was imposed a month after the body of Filipino domestic worker Joanna Demafelis was found stuffed in a freezer in the apartment of her second employer in Kuwait – a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife.

Demafelis was reported missing a year earlier, and originally had a Kuwaiti national for an employer.  She was later “sold” to the Lebanese-Syrian couple, who have since been sentenced to death by the Kuwait authorities.

It remains unclear whether the death sentences would ever be carried out, as the couple found guilty of killing Demafelis had already fled Kuwait.
The Philippine government has since lifted the labor deployment ban to the emirate.

Last month, Kuwaiti Instagram celebrity and makeup artist Sondos Alqattan drew a backlash and was dropped by several global cosmetics brands after she uploaded a video flaying the new entitlements of Filipino domestic workers.

“For her to take a day off every week, that’s four days a month. Those are the days that she’ll be out. And we don’t know what she’ll be doing on those days, with her passport on her,” Alqattan said.