This week, reports around the world provided few details about a peculiar and sensationalist story about a newborn baby being dumped in the trash of a Gulf Air flight coming from Bahrain to the Philippines. The initial reports mentioned that the baby who was rescued by Gulf Air cleaners as he was turning blue, looked Filipino. New details about the case are emerging, turning it from a peculiar sad story to another example of the all-too-common occurrence of rape of migrant workers by their employers.
The mother appears to be a 30-year-old woman, mother of two other children, living in the north Apayao area of the Philippines. Last June, she set out to work in Qatar, where she says she was raped by her employer. She told her Representative, Lani Mercado, that her employer's (and rapist's) wife forced her to return home before she was able to complete her three-year contract. The woman gave birth to the baby in the plane's bathroom and left him in the trash there because she was afraid of how her family would react.
We previously reported about a temporary orphanage in Indonesia that offers mothers who returned from abroad a shelter for their child, while they attempt to explain to their husbands that they were raped. Currently there are about ten Filipino rape victims who are awaiting repatriation in Saudi Arabia after fleeing their sponsors.
Unfortunately, the rape of migrant domestic workers occurs quite often in the region and is the result of the near-total dependence of migrant workers on their employers. Such helplessness encourages abuse, since rapists know that they won't face the consequence of their actions.