'Abused' OFW in Saudi Arabia dies – migrants' group

MANILA, Philippines – The Filipina worker in Saudi Arabia who has been in a coma after allegedly being physically abused and raped by her employer has died, according to migrants' rights group Migrante-Middle East.

"Rina", whose real name is Rehana Lusay Bayan, died around 3 pm Friday, October 23, according to Riyadh-based Migrante leader John Leonard Monterona, citing Bayan's cousin, a certain Henry.

In a statement released Saturday, October 24, Monterona said Henry, who is also based in Riyadh, received a phone call from an official of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Agency (POLO-OWWA) bearing the bad news.

It was Migrante that called on Filipinos working in the region to donate blood and help save Bayan's life. A blood clot was found in her brain and was removed, but she needed blood donation since her platelets were running low.

But Monterona alleged their group was "barred" from entering the intensive care unit where Bayan was confined.

"We were told that the [Philippine] embassy and POLO-OWWA gave an instruction to the hospital and staff not to allow us get any information and that all her medical bulletin must be coursed through embassy and POLO-OWWA officials," he added.

He said Henry was assured by Philippine authorities Bayan was on her way to recovery.

Group seeks probe

25-year-old Bayan is from Kabuntalan, Maguindanao. When she was still able to talk, she reportedly told other wards at Saudi's social welfare agency (SWA) that she was only 17 when she began working in Saudi Arabia.

According to Monterona, Bayan was brought to the SWA on September 19 but was already very weak. Five days after, the group was told the Filipina worker was already in a coma.

Migrante believes Bayan is a "victim of brutality and inhumane treatment."

Monterona on Saturday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Labor and Employment to investigate what happened and "punish its officials who have been remiss in providing protection and immediate assistance" to Bayan.

He also said, "We, and on behalf of her family in the Philippines, demand justice to be served. It is now in the hands of the [Philippine] ambassador and POLO-OWWA officials to pursue a case" against those responsible for Bayan's death.

The group also urged the Philippine Congress to start its own probe.

"It is also high time for the [Philippine] government to proactively initiate a review of its bilateral agreement with the host government in the hiring and deployment and protection of Filipino household domestic workers," Monterona added. – Rappler.com