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Monday, October 25, 2010

Semi Slavery

Occasionally while traveling in the States, I'll slum it for a day or two in a backpacker's hostel.

Yesterday, while staying in such a place in one of the seedier parts of beautiful Washington DC, I got talking to talking to the maid assigned to clean out my room.

Turned out she was a Filipina, late 20s I'd guess and clearly well educated.

She told me she was a former junior school teacher, with a dream to rise out the the poverty she and her family were accustomed to. She wanted to buy her own house, so had come to work in the U.S. to earn some decent wages, then return home with enough to set herself up.

She'd paid paid $5,000 to an "agency", an huge sum in itself by Filipino standards, but on her arrival in the U.S. was hit up for another $6,000 in undisclosed "fees" and "charges".

For the last 18 months "Tia" has worked 7 days a week. She works weekdays in a childcare center, then in the evening until late as kitchen hand. On Saturday and Sunday she cleans the hostel then waitresses at night.

The "agency" accommodates her in a three bedroom apartment with 11 other Filapinas, all in a similar position.

I'm a capitalist. I admire this lady for her work ethic and ambition. I have no problem with legitimate businesses who help people from third world countries attempt to escape poverty through working in richer countries.

It's the element of fraud and exploitation that I despise. This kind of scam, the hidden "charges" and outright deception traps millions of men and women world wide on a never ending treadmill that is often one step above slavery. Horrible as it seems, "Tia" is probably far better off than many victims of these practices.

"Tia" was not complaining. I had to draw the information out of her. She was doing what she had to do to get ahead.

It's one thing to read about these scams. Its another to meet one of its victims in the capital of the world's richest and most benevolent nation.


OpenID said...

Is there anything we can do to help "Tia"? I hate to think that a penny I've earned would ever go to a place like what you described, makes my stomach turn. But, I cannot help the desire to aid Tia.


3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This happens everywhere. Let me tell you my story about a Rancher in Wyoming. He is not a real rancher, his father is a rich businessman in New York, who came here from Czechoslovakia. He bought this huge ranch in Big Piney, Wyoming. They used all the Gov. Conservancy easements to get Federal Grants. They also operate a cow operation.

The problem is they bring other Czech's over here to work the ranch. They pay them nothing but room and board, therefore they have no way of ever leaving the ranch. I was a witness to this, as my son was also working there.

He could barely get paid and left after realizing what kind of slave operation this man was operating.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not unexpected, this is common practice in the Arab world. I have seen Arabs doing this in the US as well as Filipinos exploiting their fellow countrymen in the US; in this manner.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Both of these cases are punishable offenses. These are not victimless crimes.

As hard as it is, something should be done. Said.

The first one is very tough, because this woman has worked so hard to be a victim.

The second one, the rancher. Well, that's slavery and there is already precedence in the USA for conviction.

I think maybe it's time to create some humane way of helping these people out of their slavery, to return home, and then prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. Morally it's not that far removed from drug dealing or pimping a slave. Despicable.

Until then, it will only happen to more and more innocent victims.

What else is there to do? It's a catch 22.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's lucky she didn't end up in forced prostitution.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Lloyd said...

This is a classically described case of Human Trafficking. This, and any case similar should be immediately reported to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Rescue and Restore Campaign:

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can be reached at 1-888-3737-888

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would have helped more if he would report the NAME OF THE AGENCY WHO HAS ENSLAVE THIS WOMAN.

7:51 AM  

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