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by Paula Saraza and Nandika Ravi

A Filipina live-in caregiver in Alberta is alleging that her employer secretly installed a hidden camera in her bathroom, which she said, she discovered only on October 10. Mae (name changed in order to protect her identity) had been working as a care giver in the house for the past four years and said she feels violated.

“I don’t even know who else might have been watching me with that camera, how many times they watched me,” Mae said.

“And my employer even had the guts to look at me face to face, to smile at me? I’m probably naked in his eyes all the time,” she said.

On October 10, when Mae was going in to take a shower, she spotted something unusual in her basement that she said looked like a charger’s adapter.

SD card slot (left), Camera (right) |Photo provided

 

“I saw that there was like a camera,” she said.

“I immediately panicked. I didn’t know if I should dress myself first, I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling all these mixed emotions, I was so mad, and I kept asking myself why. This is just too much, how were they able to do this to me after all the years I worked for them?”

Following the privacy breach, she left the house the next morning without informing her employer and moved in to a friend’s place. She then reported the incident to Edmonton Police and handed over the camera along with the SD card. However, according to  Mae, Edmonton police haven’t investigated on this issue yet and are waiting for a judge’s approval on a warrant to examine the contents on the camera.

“I feel no justice. When the police came to my friend’s house, they only spoke to me and took the spycam. They didn’t ask for a written report.”

“My employer? The alleged suspect? He’s free to go. He can go anywhere without fear for what he’s done to me,” Mae added.

Allan Ralph Basa, a migrant worker advocate in Toronto, has been helping Mae. He said such issues of abuse are very common among migrant workers.

Abuse ranges from long hours of unpaid work, harassment, discrimination, but a good number or a significant number constitute to sexual abuse.”

Basa feels it’s about time the government implements a prevention program to help protect and safeguard basic rights of migrant caregivers from such incidents.

“The government should institute a mechanism in order to really instill fear on the part of the employer that should he do such abuses, it will subject him to serious liability and even lose him privilege of hiring caregivers later. The deterrent is lacking.”

Like many other caregivers, Mae moved to Canada from Hong Kong in hopes of a better future for her family in the Philippines. Though it has been challenging, she asks other caregivers to step up, if they’re ever caught in such a situation.

“Please don’t stay silent.”

“If you don’t speak up, you’re just giving your abusive employers a chance to do the same thing to their future caregivers. Please be brave. The fight is scary but please continue to be strong.”

It’s been more than a month since Mae reported the incident to Edmonton Police, and is yet to hear back from them. However, she was asked to take counselling services for victims of abuse, while she waits for a resolution.

OMNI Filipino reached out to Edmonton police and they said that, “an investigation is currently underway into these allegations”. No other details were shared as charges have not been laid yet.