What to Do When OFWs Were Abused Abroad
Working in another country as an overseas Filipino worker or OFW definitely involves some risks. While many of our fellow Pinoys can say that they have not encountered any serious problems abroad, it is still a fact of life that bad things can happen to any OFW, anywhere.
We’ve all heard different stories of abused OFWs involving their own employers or co-workers. Several news reports found on newspapers, TV and online news websites inform us about rape cases, physical abuse or even murder – and this can all be scary if you or a loved one is an OFW.
Different Forms of Abuse
The term “abuse” can be defined in many ways. It can mean experiencing rude treatment from government representatives or embassy officials, exploitation of any sort by an employer or a recruiter, unfair charging of unnecessary fees, illegal and untimely termination of work contract, human trafficking including various forms of harassment.
Particularly, reports regarding OWFs that have been sexually assaulted or physically attacked can be a cause of grave concern for the overseas employees and their families.
What to Do When Abused
OFWs who experiences abuse (or notice any signs that may lead to it) should report it to authorities.
Government officials encourage OFWs to immediately get in touch with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), and DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) should they desire to file formal complaints.
Likewise, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) assures that they will extend any assistance needed with each case reported to them. Abused OFWs who chose to return to the Philippines can also contact the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) where they can learn about livelihood programs offered by the government. Additionally, the center offers counseling services, medical care, job referral, and temporary shelter for distressed OFWs.
These agencies promise that they will work closely on each complaint whether the abused OFW has been directly hired, agency hired or even if they are undocumented (illegal OFW).
Failure to Report Can Lead to Negative Consequences
Hesitance to take legal action can result to further trouble. As a matter of fact, failure to report maltreatment can even prove lethal in some instances. The safety and welfare of individuals should always be the biggest priority. Protecting them from abusive employers is a must. Legal rights of these overseas workers should be upheld even when they are outside the country.