Thursday, October 30, 2008

September 25, 2007

Raped Pinay waitress in Dubai gets help from DFA
09/25/2007 03:48 PM \

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An 18-year-old Filipino waitress in Dubai is finally getting legal help from the Philippine government one month after she was allegedly raped by a Tunisian.

Rowena, not her real name, was detained when she went to the police to report that the Tunisian known only as Wahid sexually assaulted her last Aug. 13. The Tunisian was also taken to police custody but his lawyer claimed he was Rowena’s boyfriend, giving the police reason to charge her with carrying on an illicit relationship.

He was her supervisor in a French fine dining restaurant.Rowena appeared in court without a lawyer or interpreter, according to her Filipino friend and co-worker who identified herself as Olga. She remains in detention at the Bur Dubai Police Station.On Tuesday however, Dubai-based Khaleej Times reported that the Department of Foreign Affairs has agreed to provide the legal funds for the Consulate General to engage the services of a lawyer to defend Rowena.

Rowena’s case reached Philippine authorities through the Saudi-based V-Team Advocacy Group and the Center for Migrants Advocacy. Olga approached V-Team in a bid to get Rowena out of jail.Rafael Palencia Jr, senior officer at the consulate general-assistance to nationals section, said two suspects are in the hands of the Dubai police.

Rowena was also held for engaging in illicit relationship, being drunk at the time of the crime, and for providing false statement.Palencia said the consulate general has already hired a lawyer to represent Rowena in court this week. She has also been undergone medical examination and the findings would be presented to the Public Prosecution Office.According to Olga, her friend’s ordeal began on a day she reported at work even when she was feeling ill.

The restaurant’s catering manager fetched her from the outlet where she was working, supposedly to take her to a physician for treatment.Rowena took clothes from her apartment before proceeding to the hospital. But then, she was taken instead to the company employees’ quarters. By night time, she was fetched again and brought to a friend of her manager’s quarters.

“Kampante lang si Rowena dahil sa mga superiors n’ya ang kasama n’ya nang gabing ‘yon. Huli na nang malaman n’yang may binabalak na palang masama ang kanyang supervisor," Olga told GMANews.TV correspondent Ronaldo Concha in an earlier interview.

The day following the rape incident, Olga said the men took Rowena to the police to report that she was beaten by her fellow Filipinos. “Pero hindi po nagsalita doon si Rowena kasi ang iniutos sa kanya eh sabihin na binugbog siya ng mga kapwa niya Filipino. Kaya ang nangyari ay nagalit sa kanya ang manager at ikinulong siya sa accommodation at pinabantayan siya sa isang babaeng Tunisian," Olga further narrated.

She said she only learned of Rowena’s ordeal a few days later when Rowena managed to sneak out and phoned her. “Nakapuslit siya ng tawag kinahapunan sa akin at umiiyak na nagsabi na sunduin ko daw siya at may nangyari daw masama," Olga said.“Hindi na po siya iba sa akin kaya dali-dali ko siyang sinundo kasama ng ilang kaibigan. Pinipigilan siya nung babaeng bantay sa paglabas pero nagpumiglas siya at tumakbo palabas. Kinailangan pa niya magtago sa isang tindahan para ‘di siya makita. Monitored namin siya ng telepono kaya alam namin kung saan tumakbo," she said.

Rowena was immediately taken to a doctor because she was complaining of body aches and abdominal pains. Olga said the Tunisian inserted a roll of tissue in Rowena's vaginal opening, supposedly to absorb his sperm.“We went to the hospital na sister company ng company namin kaya lang wala daw silang OB-Gyne kaya lumipat kami ng ibang hospital. They did a series of tests sa Iranian Hospital," Olga said.

After getting the medical examination result, Olga said she took Rowena to the police station to report what had happened. They reported the incident to the head office of the restaurant they were working.Unfortunately, the restaurant managers refused to believe Rowena and she was instead reprimanded for not reporting the incident to them before going to the police.“Sabi ko naman kung ang kaso ay simpleng sampal baka ganoon ang ginawa ko, pero ‘ka ko eh sensitibong kaso ang nangyari," Olga said.

The restaurant managers even terminated Olga’s services, apparently because of the support she has been extending to Rowena in pursuing the rape charge against the Tunisian supervisor.Days later, Olga and Rowena reported the incident to the consulate general.

But Olga said the initial response they received from the welfare officers was discouraging.“Ang reaction nila ay kung bakit ngayon lang daw namin sinabi ito. Dapat daw tinawagan muna sila bago pumunta sa pulis. Tapos po ang sinabi eh wala na silang magagawa dahil nasa prosecutors office na raw ang kaso.

Tinanong ko po kung pwede nilang matulungan si Rowena na mailabas, ang sabi po sa akin eh kailangan ibigay sa kanila ang report ng pangyayari," Olga said.Ellene Sana, executive director of the Manila-based Center for Migrant Advocacy, sent a letter of request to Consulate General Antonio Curameng in Dubai seeking legal assistance for Rowena. According to Olga, Rowena has received phone calls from an older sister of the Tunisian suspect, offering money, a house and other valuables if she would drop the rape case.

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Libran Cabactulan has advised Filipinos facing legal problems to coordinate with either the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi or the consulate general in Dubai so that they could be properly represented.Cabactulan said that without proper legal representation, some victims may run the risk of compromising their case or the evidence they have to present in the court of law. - with reports from Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV

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