Filipina housekeeper Jennifer Perez lay paralyzed from the neck down in a hospital
bed in Amman, as a fierce legal battle raged around her. Her former employer was
under investigation for assault while the Philippine Embassy pushed for a charge of attempted
murder. Once poised to set a precedent in the Jordanian courts,
the Perez case exposed the social and legal divides between
Jordanians and the foreign workers who serve them. Jennifer died just three weeks after returning home to the Phillipines, after wasting away for months in Jordanian hospital without legal or financial compensation, with only her embassy championing her rights (while offering shelter to scores of Filipina women sleep-
ing four to a single bed while waiting for back pay or a plane
ticket away from miserable working conditions).
Jennifer, like the estimated 300,000 documented migrant workers of various nationalities in Jordan came with hopes of finding better work opportunities abroad to help support her family back home. But for some, the quest for a better future exposes them to a very different and harsh reality: abuse at the hands of their employers or recruiting agent.
It is one of those issues many Jordanians prefer to sweep under the carpet. Cases of verbal, physical and even sexual assault of migrant workers at the hands of their employers are often dismissed by the general public and exacerbated by inadequate legal safeguards. Activists and legal experts stress that things won't improve until the government starts building up and enforcing the law - and the public starts seeing foreign laborers as human.