October 9, 2020
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), hailed the court sentencing of a Malaysian couple for the severe exploitation and trafficking of their Filipino domestic worker.
Susan Ople, a former labor undersecretary and head of the Ople Center, said that the conviction of the Malaysian employers of an OFW named “Honey”* is a major milestone in the country’s fight against trafficking.
Ople disclosed that “Honey” became a victim of abuse in 2017 when her Malaysian employers would vent their anger towards her through physical beatings and verbal abuse.
“It was a succession of vicious physical and verbal abuse. They starved her, beat her up, and scalded her, and brought her by the side of the road when they thought she might end up dying inside their household. With the help of the Philippine Embassy and the Malaysian Royal Police, her employers were charged of human trafficking and were finally sentenced to jail by the court,” Ople said.
According to “Honey”, her female employer ironed the back of her hand and also inflicted several knife cuts along her arms. The husband, after a quarrel with his spouse, stormed out of the bedroom and hit her in the face, leading to deep cut underneath her eye.
One day, after accusing “Honey” of stealing, the female employer went into the kitchen where the domestic worker was, heated a frying pan, and when the cooking oil was boiling hot, poured the hot oil on her domestic worker.
“Honey” pursued the human trafficking case, staying in a safehouse provided by the Malaysian police, with assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment through the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration. The Ople Center and OWWA made arrangements for the parents of “Honey” to visit her in Kuala Lumpur to provide much needed moral support to their traumatized daughter.
Last September 30, the Malaysian court handed Norazni binti Razali, the female employer, a jail sentence of 12 years imprisonment while the husband, Mohammad Bin Afzan, received a jail term of 10 years. The court also awarded the exploited OFW compensation amounting to RM 20,000 (PhP 233,000).
“I am happy that I got justice. I stayed positive and really prayed hard. I am more driven and positive now,” she said, upon receiving the good news from the Philippine Embassy.
She said she almost lost hope when she learned that the court allowed the Malaysian couple to post bail but were barred from leaving the country. After attending several hearings, “Honey” headed home in 2018 and has since been working for the Ople Center as an administrative staff.
The OFW cited the joint efforts of the DFA-OUMWA, DOLE, OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, Labor Attache Elizabeth Estrada, Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Charles Jose, and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for the assistance she has received over the span of three years. She also expressed her gratitude to the Villar SIPAG Foundation led by Senator Cynthia Villar for the livelihood assistance that her family received.
As for future plans, the OFW said she wants to devote her time to helping other distressed OFWs through the Ople Center. “I am now more at peace with myself, and quite proud that I never gave up the battle for justice. By sharing my story, I hope other victims of abuse from abroad can also find the strength to fight for their rights to get the justice that they deserve.”
*Honey is a pseudonym chosen by the victim-survivor for her security and protection.