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OFW moms most unsettled by rape, assaults on children they left behind

28 December 2018

Social welfare attaché Elizabeth Lim-Dy.


By Vir B. Lumicao

Cases of rape and acts of lasciviousness by their own family members were the main worries of Filipina migrant workers in Hong Kong in the past year, according to social welfare attaché Elizabeth Lim-Dy.
She said these concerns highlight the social cost of exporting labor.
But she said most of problems that workers had brought to her attention for help involved child support from errant husbands or partners.
In four rape cases reported to her since she returned to her post in April, Dy described the helplessness of the victims and their OFW mothers in the face of predatory acts of people in whom they have entrusted the care of their children.



The most recent rape case surfaced only in October when the victim’s mother, who was just two months in her employment, went to see Dy to discuss her daughter’s problem after attending a post-arrival orientation seminar at the Consulate.“Pagpasok pa lang dito ay iyak na siya nang iyak,” Dy said. The mother told the social welfare attaché that she had talked to her 17-year-old daughter the night before and learned that her partner had been raping the teenage girl.
The victim reportedly revealed that the sexual assaults began when she was 14, and that soon after the mother left for Hong Kong, the stepfather had been raping her three times a day.




The girl could not tell her mother early on allegedly because the stepfather had been threatening to kill her and her mother if she did so. The distraught mother said her daughter was contemplating suicide as a result.Dy, breaking into tears as she recounted the case, said the first thing she did was to advise the worker to ask her brother to take her daughter away from the house she shared with the stepfather. Then she asked DSWD personnel to report the case to the authorities.
Police, however, were slow to act against the suspect allegedly because the assaults took place well beyond the 72-hour inquest period after the commission of the crime, Dy said. But the legal action is continuing, she said.



In the meantime, Dy said she had to give counseling to both mother and daughter to make sure they remain strong while legal action is under way.She said part of the intervention is to help the mother get permission from her employer to go back home for a while so she could personally attend to the case and comfort her daughter.
“We always see to it na, bilang nanay, mahalaga kasi yung presence niya when the child is really in that situation na, you know, that’s the very case na hindi basta puwedeng akuin ng ibang tao kundi ng sarili niyang magulang,” Dy said.


Dy said she connects the mothers to the government, represented by the Consulate here, if there is a need for legal matters such as affidavits of support and notarization, and with the country partners such as family courts.
NGOs such as the PathFinders, Sons & Daughters, and International Social Service Hong Kong also give a helping hand, she said. Of the three other rape cases, one was committed allegedly by the victim’s father; another by an uncle, and the fourth, by a neighbor. One of the attackers is now in jail while legal proceedings are under way against the perpetrators in the two other cases.
Dy said there have been several cases of acts of lasciviousness committed by relatives on children of OFWs, but the children have been rescued and the culprits are now facing legal action.
As for cases involving child support and custody, Dy said she calls the couples involved to a counseling session at the Consulate where she emphasizes to the fathers their duties under the law.
When they settle the support issue, Dy calls Consul Paulo Saret, who is a lawyer, to a case conference where both parties sign an affidavit stating what they are obliged to do.
“We have to really make them understand na puwede pa rin nilang ihabol ang karapatan, especially yung nanay o yung bata, sa Pilipinas,” Dy said.
“May sarili kayong buhay, may sarili din kayong disposisyon, pero as far as yung parenting roles ninyo, nandito ang gobyerno, hahabulin kayo.”
Dy was reposted in Hong Kong last April by DSWD Secretary Emmanuel Leyco, nine months after she was recalled by his predecessor, Judith Taguiwalo, in a review of staff assignments at the home office.









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