Filipina 'virtual slave' awarded $55k in Canada case

MANILA, Philippines – A Canadian tribunal has awarded more than $55,000 in damages and "lost wages" to a Filipino woman who was treated like a "virtual slave" by her employers.

Identified as PN, the Filipina worked "as a housekeeper and caregiver" to the two children of a Hong Kong couple that moved to Richmond City in British Columbia, Canada, on July 7, 2013.

The children's father, identified as FR, sexually abused her while the mother, MR, harassed her.

The children also made fun of PN, who was 28 when the abuse took place in 2013, according to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in a decision dated April 1.

"PN was a virtual slave," tribunal member Catherine McCreary said in the 32-page decision.

McCreary wrote: "While working for the respondents, PN was exploited. She had to perform sexual acts at the whim and insistence of her employer, she was humiliated and degraded by her other employer, and she was even made fun of by the children who were in her care. She was isolated, underfed and treated like she was sub-human; all because she was a young Filipino mother who needed the job to take care of her own children."

"I would like to think that this behavior does not occur in BC. However, where it comes to the attention of the Tribunal, damages will be awarded to attempt to put the complainant in a position that she would have been in without the discrimination," she added.

PN escaped from her employers on August 18, 2013, when she "had a chance to empty the garbage," the tribunal member said.

For abusing PN, McReary said FR and MR violated the British Columbia Human Rights Code, and ordered them to "refrain from committing the same or a similar contravention."

She also said FR and MR should:

CBC News reported that the ruling "is one of the largest awards in the tribunal's history." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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