Thursday, July 30, 2009
Another interesting case cited in the Philippine Dialy Inquirer article, "What Gays Should Know Before Going to Saudi", is that of a salon attendant forced to give "extra service" to their male clients in the Middle East.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
Emmie (also not his real name), a gay hairdresser from Cebu City, had another experience to share: sex trafficking.
Sometime in January 2002, Emmie was recruited for a high-paying job in a salon in Bahrain.
“Customers requested haircuts, manicures, pedicures, body shaving, and massage services,” said Emmie, recounting his first day at the salon.
In the next few days, Emmie would learn why the salon was so popular: His coworkers gave “extra-services” to their customers.
“In fact, my colleagues were getting angry at me because I refused to do what they were doing to our clients,” Emmie said.
Emmie: Stand your ground
One day, a customer came and asked for the body shaving service. “The customer wanted me to hold his genitals with one hand while saving him. When I refused, he complained to my manager, and my manager scolded me,” Emmie said.
“I knew I was doing the right thing and I had nothing to lose by giving up the job I had already grown to despise. So I told my manager that I was not interested merely in making lots of money, but in making a lot—with dignity.”
“I wanted to stick to the provisions of my contract and use my talent to earn a living in a decent way,” explained Emmie.
During his seventh month at the salon, the manager again spoke to Emmie. He demanded that Emmie admit he was gay.
The confession trick
Emmie said the manager reminded him that homosexuality was prohibited in Bahrain. “He said I should tell him if indeed I was gay so he could protect me while working in his salon.”
Emmie told the manager the truth. Yes, he was gay. But his admission was used by his employer to sack him from his job and repatriate him back to Manila in October 2002.
“I asked that all my benefits, including my unpaid salary, be given to me, but my manager threatened to have me arrested and put in jail for being gay. I could not complain so I returned to Cebu empty-handed.”
Emmie believes the salon where he worked and others he came to know about were fronts for prostitution.
When Emmie returned from Bahrain, a friend informed him that a crewing company was hiring beauty experts for a passenger ship visiting countries in Europe and Asia. Emmie decided to give overseas work another chance. He applied and got the job.
Emmie recently returned from London after his contract ended. This time he had mostly good experiences to share about overseas work. He said he was applying with another crewing company for possible employment in another international passenger line.
But he still shudders when he remembers his first foray overseas. “Be aware of the culture and religion of the country that you are going to work in. Also, share your stories—whether by word of mouth or through Internet forums and blogs.
“Your story may save someone from becoming the next victim,” he said.
Read the FULL ARTICLE