The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is appealing to Filipinos abroad to avoid posting unverified information on social media.
The DFA issued the appeal after a social media post involving a Filipina household service worker in Bahrain, who was supposedly subjected to genital mutilation by her employer, went viral but later turned out to be untrue.
“While we appreciate the concern extended by our kababayan abroad about this particular case, we should also be careful about posting something of this kind on social media without first checking its veracity,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said.
“We have to protect the interests of our kababayan victim and at the same time make sure we do not unnecessarily strain our relations with the host state,” Undersecretary Arriola said as she lamented the posting on social media of a video showing the visibly distraught Filipina.
“Every complaint is taken seriously and is investigated. It does not need to go viral in social media,” the Undersecretary said in cautioning Filipinos abroad against passing on through social media unverified information of very sensitive nature, particularly in the Middle East where there are very strict defamation laws.
Ambassador to Manama Alfonso A. Ver said the woman was already in the Philippines when the post went viral but Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano had her located and brought immediately to the hospital for medical examination.
“Doctors said that upon examination, the victim had no indications whatsoever of genital mutilation,” Ambassador Ver said.
However, Ambassador Ver said the medical examination on the victim revealed signs of physical abuse and post traumatic stress disorder.
Ambassador Ver said the DFA will provide for the continuous medical care of the victim, who remains confined at the hospital. The DFA Office of Migrant Workers Affairs will also be providing her family with financial assistance.
The envoy said the Embassy has also learned that the victim was underpaid by her employer. Instead of BD150.00, the victim was only being paid BD90.00 monthly, according to the envoy.
Ambassador Ver said the Embassy has already contacted officials of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority, who promised to cooperate in the investigation.
He also gave assurances that the Embassy will undertake the necessary courses of action to address the other concerns of the victim.