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Out-of-wedlock troubles on the rise

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, TOP STORIES

Authorities in the UAE have always issued warnings that pregnancy out of wedlock is illegal. Despite this, cases persist and some happen in the Filipino community. Officials said one of the reasons for this is economic.

DUBAI: Authorities in the UAE have always issued warnings that pregnancy out of wedlock is illegal. Despite this, cases persist and some pregnancies happen in the Filipino community. Officials said one of the reasons for this is economic.

The Philippine Consulate General handled many “baby cases”  during the first quarter of this year, mostly involving jobless overseas Filipinos who have reportedly resorted to an affair for survival, but whose partners have ran away after getting them pregnant, officials told  The Filipino Times.

Describing the figure as “alarming,” a ranking Philippine Embassy official said it could as well just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg considering the high likelihood that many more cases have remained unreported.

A typical ATN mission day where OFWs entangled in overstaying, absconding and baby cases gather for advice. (Contributed photo)

“It is alarming,” Third Secretary and Vice Consul Von Ryan Pangwi, who heads the Philippine Embassy’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) section, told The Filipino Times in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi.

“Two hundred is big. I will hazard to say that it is not the whole total because marami pang baby cases dyan… hindi lang nailalapit sa embahada o consulate. Ilalapit lang kapag malaki na yung bata, kailangan ng mag-aral,” Pangwi added. (There are many more baby cases out there not being reported to the embassy or consulate. They will only come to us when the babies have become a few years older and need to go to school.)

“They know the culture. They know the rules. They know it’s illegal, yet they still do it,” Pangwi lamented.

He added that other cases involved those staying in shared accommodations. “Things happen,” he said.

Repatriation

Marco Flores, ATN officer at PCG, told The Filipino Times that the unwed mothers usually were documented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“Nagpunta sila sa UAE na mga documented workers and then nawalan ng trabaho.   Galing sila sa pagiging mga kasambahay pero may mga professionals din na talagang nagkaruon ng problem sa trabaho nila hanggang sa umabot sa pagkakaruon nila ng mga pamilya dito,” said Flores. (They went to the UAE as documented workers and then they lost their jobs. Some of them were household service workers, but there were also professionals. They encountered problems with their jobs until they eventually ended up having a family here.)

ATN Officer Marco Flores

Figures

Meantime, he said the figure has gone down from some 200 in the first quarter to around 90 as of press time because they have been able to continuously repatriate the mothers and their children.

“Merong cases na talagang wala yung father dito. Meron naman nandito pamilya pero di lang talaga sila documented (OFWs) at meron din na abandoned (baby),” said Flores. (We have cases where the father is not here (in the UAE). We also have cases where the family is here but the mother is an undocumented OFW, and we also have cases of abandoned [babies].)

Flores said the police would ask for contact details from the mother and exhaust all means to locate the father in instances where he is believed to still be in the UAE. “Hahanapin at hahanapin nila yun at pwede ring makulong,” said Flores. (The UAE police will leave no stone unturned to find him and he can also be jailed.)

He said that aside from fellow Filipinos, men of other nationalities also enter into a relationship with the jobless mothers. “May ibang lahi din,” he said.

Where did they give birth?

Flores said unwed pregnant mothers usually give birth in the flats or villas through a self-styled midwife facilitating the delivery. “May on-call (midwife) pa. Dumadayo kung saan saan. Kaya sometimes,  when you ask the mothers, you’ll find out that only one ‘midwife’ helped them during their labor,” the ATN officer said.

ATN officer Arthur Blas attending to a group of unwed mothers. (Contributed photo)

Others, Flores said, give birth in hospitals claiming they have documents to show afterward. In such cases, the hospital asks for and keeps the passport for tracking later on if the mother doesn’t show up; in others, hospital authorities “endorse” the mother to the police.

Not a dead end anymore

Flores said work continues for the ATN team assigned to the “baby cases.” He explained: “Daily may nagre-report. Normally may isa or dalawa.” (We receive new cases every day. Normally, we get one or two.)

Flores said that the mothers have been coming forward because “they now know there is a repatriation process.”

“Alam na po nila na may proseso na makakauwi naman sila. Dati nagtatago sila kasi di nila alam ang gagawin. Kaya sinasabi naming sa mga mothers na kung may kilala sila, tutulungan naming makauwi. Dati kasi ine-expect nila dead end na sila,” said Flores. (They now know that they can go home. Back then, they go into hiding because they didn’t know what to do, thinking they have reached a dead end. That’s why we tell the mothers to tell those whom they know to be going through the same ordeal that we can help them go home.)

He said some others were wary that the government will take their babies. “We tell them that’s not going to happen,” said Flores.

As of press time, Flores said, there were wards being processed for repatriation in coordination with UAE authorities, including the police.

Mothers still undecided about turning themselves in but have reported to the consulate general are usually engaged in part time jobs, the ATN officer said, adding, “we are monitoring them.”

“Sa ngayon nagkakaruon sila pagkakataong makapag-part time sila. May sariling mga tahanang tinutuluyan dito yung di pa sumusuko dahil wala kamin shelter para sa kanila’t mga babies nila,” said Flores. (For now, those who have not surrendered take part time jobs. They stay in homes because we don’t have a shelter for them and their babies.)

Vice Consul Von Ryan Pangwi

WhatsApp chat group

Perhaps the extent of the problem about unwed pregnant women can best be gauged by the fact that they have a chat group.

“May WhatsApp group ang mga baby case mothers,” said Flores. “Kapag naka-uwi na sila, nagsasabi sila, ‘Nakauwi na ko. Maraming salamat po. Pwede nyo na akong i-alis sa group.” (When they’ve finally landed home in the Philippines, they’d post a message: “I am home. Thanks so much. You may now remove me from the group.”)

Sometimes, Flores said, someone in the chat group would refer a new ward. “‘Sir, punta kami bukas sa PCG.’ Sasabihin naming: Sige daan kayo ng bandang 2pm. Wala na masyadong tao nun.’” (They’ll tell us they’d drop by PCG the following day and we advise them to come by at around 2pm when there’re not too many people.)

The ATN handles cases of overseas Filipino workers locked in a range of issues from allegations of having absconded from their employers, been overstaying, involvement in unpaid debts and/or drugs, and immorality – those who become pregnant out of wedlock.

 

Ano ba’ng mangyayari ‘pag sumuko ka?

 

• A mother who turns herself in to the police for being pregnant out of wedlock is sent to Al Awir Central Jail or Sharjah Central Jail depending on which has jurisdiction over her place of residency.
• The baby or the minor stays at a facility inside the central jail.
• Police will then endorse the case to the court following request to the CID General Headquarters (Forensic Laboratory) for DNA test.
• If DNA confirms mother-child relationship, the court will request for birth certificate to be issued by the UAE Ministry of Health.
• The Philippine Consulate General then issues a travel document to the child in lieu of a passport.
• The birth certificate reads: Father unknown
• The mother serves jail time for one month to one year depending on the offense but usually is sent home with her baby after serving half the sentence.
• There are instances where the Philippine Consulate General issues an endorsement letter for the mother and provides counselling prior to surrender.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

FOLLOW US

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