9 August 2011
Commentary: Women Filipino inmates with children in Dubai prison
by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Last week, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), care of this writer, received reports about the more or less fifteen (15) women OFW inmates with children, in a jail in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The report M-ME received was from a recently released female OFW inmate (who requested not to be named) that there are about 100 OFW inmates, 15 of them with children, languishing at Muraqabat prison for women in Dubai.
This report is quite disturbing. The innocent children have been exposed to the adversities and bitter realities of prison life.
An expatriate friend of mine who works as a reporter for a local media firm in Dubai corroborated the information about women OFW inmates with children in that Dubai jail.
In an email sent to me, she conveyed that she was in the women’s prison on another story few weeks ago when she noticed all these kids in a little courtyard area. “I assumed it was ‘family visiting day’ but when I asked the guard, she told me they live there. They don’t ever get to go out of the prison compound and receive no education,” she conveyed to me.
The children should not be in jail in the first place though their mothers are.
We came to know that some of the women OFWs were charged of illicit affairs. Unfortunately, they became pregnant and while serving their time in jail delivered a baby.
A number of them who claimed they were sexually abused and got pregnant, have ran away, but their employer charged them of absconding and other trumped up charges such as stealing and illicit affairs, thus they were sent behind bars.
Why the PH post in Dubai could not seek with the local authorities the release of OFW inmates and their children for humanitarian consideration or ask for clemency to shorten their jail term?
The PH diplomatic post could even arrange to talk with the OFW inmates and convince them to coordinate with their families in the Philippines so that the children will be sent home, after getting them the required documentation, and place the children under temporary care of their relatives in the Philippines.
We have already asked Migrante officers in Dubai to look deeply into this report and liaise with the PH consulate officials in Dubai to provide assistance to the OFW inmates and their children.
To ensure that they will be properly attended, Migrante-ME will coordinate with the PH post officials to arrange and prioritize attending their case and work for their immediate repatriation.
We know very well that the only entity that could verify the information is the PH consulate itself as they have the legal recognition by the local authorities. It could in fact arrange a jail visit and if they're doing this then for sure they must have exact numbers/figures of children inside UAE jails. Now if they don't have, they maybe are just sleeping on their job.
We raised this issue not as a matter of counting numbers/figures, but a serious concern since we have received corroborating statements from an OFW inmate who have stayed months inside the jail and a foreign reporter who was given a chance not only once but many times to visit various jails in Dubai.
If we will not raise this issue, who will do? Who will care these innocent children?