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My name is Ginaid Kasem and I’m from Cotabato, Philippines. I need your help, please.
My wife, Halima Ubpah, born 16 Jan 1979, left for Lebanon on 12 August 2007 to work as a housemaid for Mr. Ali Khatib and Mrs Ibtissam Saade. We have three daughters now aged 17, 15 and 12 who miss their mother with their whole heart. Our youngest daughter, Soraida, doesn’t even know her mother because she was only two when Halima left.
We received one phone call on 22 August 2007 and then…nothing. Many, many people from inside and outside the Philippines tried to call her over the last 10 years but Mrs. Saade always said “she’s not here”, “she’s out of town” – endless excuses.
We don’t know if she’s dead or alive. The only remittance she ever sent was $100 in 2007. The number of the family is 009611808856. They live in Ramlet el Bayda. We have been told that Mrs. Saade is running for parliament and has something to do with women’s affairs, and her husband is from a well-known family. Please, can someone tell us if our precious wife and mother is still alive in Lebanon??
Update 6/6/17 Halima Is Alive
Halima is alive and has, indeed, been a slave for the family for 10 years. Fortunately, the Philippines embassy have now direct contact with the employers, who have finally responded due to all the pressure, and agreed to this meeting with embassy staff yesterday in Raouche. Eventually, we hope to have the full story from Halima.
Let’s hope these embassy efforts lead to her going back home to her family after a decade of silence, with the approx US$40,000 owed to her. Will there finally be justice for Halima and punishment for her slavers? Thank you to Halima’s family for sharing the pics with This Is Lebanon.
Update 11/6/17 on Halima, the Alkhatibs’ Slave
We have approached, and been approached, by a number of different news agencies and are awaiting their response. If you know of anyone who might be interested in investigating, please contact us. In the meantime, here is a point by point response to Alaaddein AlKhatib’s comments.
“1- Halima is alive and not a slave, as we treat her as a family’s member, not as the website said, or wink from it.”
If I had $10 for every time an abuser said “we treat her like a family member”, I would be a rich man. She is not a member of your family; she is an employee. She does have a family, and they thought she was dead.
“2- Halima is in contact with her family on a monthly basis, she usually call her father every two months and her sister that works in Saudi Arabia every month.”
The above is from the sister who works in KSA. Translation: She did not call us and she only once sent money to us when she had just arrived in Lebanon. We do not want more problems for Halima and are worried she won’t be sent home. The embassy told us she is going home after Ramadan.” Hmm, so who is lying? Alaaddein or Halima’s sister? And, furthermore, her father has not spoken to her once in the 10 years she has been in Lebanon. Not once.
“3- Halima is a good person that is the reason why my parents asked her to extend the duration of the work contract with us and she accepted that, not as the website mentioned that we misbehaved with her.”
Halima will eventually get to tell everyone all about your behaviour.
“4- All of Halima’s legal papers from the General Security, the Ministry of work, and the insurance card, and even her passport had been renewed from the Philippines embassy, and issued in a right way as it should be.”
Prove it. Post pictures. You have provided many lies with absolutely no evidence.
“5- Halima still works with us in our home for the last 10 years.”
No dispute about that.
“6- We had three weeks schedule meeting that took place yesterday in Raouche area with two embassy’s staff and Halima was with us, and she was the subject of the meeting, not as the website mentioned that we had been under pressure and respond after that.”
Amazing coincidence of timing – that you should meet immediately after the post here. If she works for you as a normal domestic worker who has proper papers and is happy in her work, WHY THE MEETING? It is not normal for two senior embassy staff to go out for lunch with the kafeel of a domestic worker. Something stinks.
“7- Halima got half of her salaries and she saved the anther half for the duration she worked with us, so when she get back to her country will be able to open a small project.”
Do you really expect anyone to believe that? Also, she will open a large project not a small one. 10 years salary plus airline tickets and unpaid annual leave comes to a minimum of US$50,000.
“8- The Philippines embassy staff, asked Halima why she didn’t send her family money, and her respond was, she didn’t want to spend on her husband that he got married during this period.”
He has not remarried as attested by her siblings, children and husband.
9- Halima and my mom had agreed three months ago that she will travel back to her country in August this year.
Because you needed your slave for Ramadan. One can only wonder what would’ve happened to Halima if this story hadn’t been posted here.
10- To show that we are transparent, we shared the embassy meetings’ pictures with a journalist asked about Halima via phone, to appear later that she works for the website that start attacking us yesterday.
The embassy sent the picture to her family in the Philippines to confirm that she was alive. If you would like to refute this, please name the journalist.
11- We had done nothing break the law or the humanity rules, we always stand for the rights and the laws of every human.
Oh please. Stop already. We have confidence that the Lebanese government is just and you will do prison time for your abuse of Halima.
Update 2/7/17 Halima’s Family Plea For Her Release
“We want our Mom to come home. We miss our Mom. We did not see her or talk to her for 10 years. We need and love our Mom. Please send her back home.” Ibtisaam Saade does not want to release her personal slave to the embassy. Probably, she’s afraid she’ll talk. #freeHalima
Update 14/7/17 Halima’s Sister Confronts Slaveholder Ibtissam Saade
Halima has been held as a slave by a family in Lebanon for 10 years. She moved there to work for her children, but once she got to Lebanon, Ali el Khatib and Ibtissam Saade locked her away, preferring to enslave her instead of paying her wages.
She is owed approximately $50,000 and the family refuses to release her or pay due wages. Her children and husband have cried out for her return, but Ali el Khatib and Ibtissam Saade believe they are above the law and untouchable. Join us in speaking against them so they they will stand trial for this crime and pay compensation.
Update 4/10/17 Halima is Free!!!
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