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Pinoy Abroad

Jailed rape victim in Dubai deported to RP

December 31, 2007 2:56pm

The 18-year-old Filipino waitress who was raped by her Tunisian supervisor but ended up in jail has been deported and is set to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Monday afternoon.

Rowena, not her real name, took the 1 a.m. (5 a.m. in Manila) flight from Dubai to Hong Kong for a two-hour stopover before finally landing in Manila shortly before 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

She will not be joining her family in the Bicol region to welcome the New Year. Her relatives are not yet aware of her ordeal, according to Olga Gonzales, a fellow OFW in Dubai who has helped Rowena in her case.

She will be staying with Olga’s family somewhere in Rizal province while trying to recover from the trauma of having been raped, jailed for almost five months and deported to her homeland.

Rowena was earlier scheduled to be deported two weeks ago, but the Dubai police holding her delayed her release from prison.

Fellow Filipinos Gigi Cuaya and Cecile Lorenzo shouldered Rowena’s plane.

Gonzales, a friend and former co-worker of Rowena at a French restaurant in Dubai, said Rowena went to Dubai to provide for her family’s needs. Unfortunately, she is coming home not only penniless but also battered by the sad experiences that started in August when she was raped, then compounded by alleged negligence by Philippine officials at the consulate.

Rowena ended up in jail in August when she reported to the police that she was raped by her Tunisian supervisor. She found out later that her abuser had gone to the police ahead of her and reported that she was mauled by fellow Filipinos.

Rowena found herself charged with having an illicit affair with the Tunisian, drinking and giving false statements. In late November, she was found guilty of these offenses, for which she was sentenced to three months in jail.

Having served the jail term, Rowena was not immediately released because the police waited for her deportation order, according to Gonzales.

She said the police in Aweer had asked for Rowena’s passport and plane ticket to Manila so she could be repatriated on December 5.

Come Dec 5, Gonzales said Rowena was told to wait for another two weeks within which the Philippine consulate should have submitted a document stating that Rowena is waiving her right to appeal the cases for which she had been convicted and had served a three-month jail term.

The Tunisian, a supervisor at a French dining restaurant Rowena used to work at, had been released from prison and sent back to Tunisia.

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.

When Rowena first appeared in court in September, she did not have a lawyer or interpreter, according to Gonzales.

According to Gonzales, her friend’s ordeal began on a day she reported to 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.

During the trial of the three cases filed against Rowena, the same catering manager testified that the Filipina was not raped, but mauled by fellow Filipinos.

"He was the same catering manager na nagdala kay Rowena at sa rapist sa lugar kung saan siya ginahasa," said Gonzales.

Rowena's version was that she asked to be dropped by her apartment to get clothes 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 the quarters of her manager’s friend.

“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," Gonzales said.

The day following the rape incident, Gonzales 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," she further narrated.

She said she only learned of Rowena’s ordeal the next day 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," Gonzales 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. Gonzales said the Tunisian inserted a roll of tissue in Rowena's vaginal opening, supposedly to absorb his sperm.

Gonzales said Rowena was a virgin prior to the rape incident.

“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," she said.

After getting the medical examination result, Gonzales 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," she said.

The restaurant managers even terminated Gonzales’s services, apparently because of the support she has been extending to Rowena in pursuing the rape charge against the Tunisian supervisor.

Days later, Gonzales and Rowena reported the incident to the consulate general. But Gonzales 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," she said.

Upon learning of Rowena’s case, the Manila-based Center for Migrants Advocacy sent a letter of request to Consulate General Antonio Curameng in Dubai seeking legal assistance for the abused Filipino.

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. - GMANews.TV