Letter: A wealthy but backward society

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From Mrs Ophelia Gorospe Dyer

Sir: As a Filipina married to an Englishman and living in this country, I am incensed at the treatment my countrywomen (and other foreign nationals) are receiving at the hands of Arab employers in the Gulf ("Gulf maids in slavery to a reign of terror", 12 October). I applaud Robert Fisk and the other journalists who are increasingly drawing the attention of the outside world to this problem.

Because of economic conditions in their home country, many Filipinos have no choice but to work abroad so that they can send money home to support their families. The vast majority of them are honest, hard-working and well-educated (although not a wealthy country the education system in the Philippines is good, which is one of the reasons Filipinos are employed to educate Arab children in the Gulf). Yet, despite the fact that they are often better educated than those they work for, they are prepared to swallow their pride and work for people, many of whom subject them to physical and sexual abuse and a starvation diet, and sometimes fail to pay them the wages agreed.

I feel sorry for Arab women who are second-class citizens in their own country, and have suffered a long history of male oppression. Although they live a cossetted and bejewelled existence, many of them have no true freedom or right of self-expression. They live in a culturally backward society with primitive customs that more civilised countries find it hard to understand.

Oil has been the Gulf's good fortune, but when will the moral values of a large number of its inhabitants catch up with their material blessings?

Yours faithfully,

Ophelia Gorospe Dyer

Exeter, Devon

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