This is not an easy article for me to write. Sometimes bad things happen, and some bad things happened in my household last week. I would prefer not to write about the incident, but I feel that the information is valuable for readers of this site, so I will write about it as best I can. I don’t aim to hurt people’s feelings with this article, but some people may feel bad about having this put into writing. For anybody who feels badly about that, I am sorry for hurting your feelings. I will not name anybody’s name, though, so that should offer you some solace.
Last week, I believe it was on Tuesday, we found out some rather bad information. It turned out that my nephew, who lives with us, had been involved in a relationship with our maid, who also lived with us. Each of these people are in their 20’s, so there was no problem as far as any age of consent issues or anything like that, but other issues had to be considered.
For the girl, she was our maid. As such, she was our employee. My nephew is a member of the family, and as such he is sort of an employer of the maid. I mean, he is not really the employer in that he does not pay the maid, but as a relative of the employer and member of the household, he has some status as an employer, in my opinion. An employee and an employer should not be involved in a relationship, especially a physical relationship.
I have no intention of going into details of this relationship. I will not be saying “he did this” or “she did that.” No, all of those sordid details are firstly private, but also not relevant to the discussion that we will have here.
Instead, I want to look at what Feyma and I did, how the situation was handled, etc., and also the cultural aspects of the incident.
Culturally, a maid is sort of “under the protection” of her employers. The employer is there to look after the well being of the helper. Make sure that no injury comes to her. Make sure that she is treated in a moral way. These statements are particularly true if the maid or helper is a minor. A maid who is a minor presents special problems for an employer, because you are not only her employer, but in many ways you must also act as a parent to the girl (or boy, if that is the case). In this situation, though, we do not need to be concerned, because the girl is an adult.
After talking with the parties involved, listening to them, explaining to them that what they had done was wrong, etc., we all came to an agreement of what would happen. The girl decided that she wanted to go home. She is not from Davao, but rather from the Province, a few hours from Davao. Our nephew elected to stay at our house for now, although I can’t be sure what the future will hold.
Our biggest concern on this, and a big reason why an employer should never have a physical relationship with a helper, was that if the girl was embarrassed at what she had done, she may decide to claim that she was forced into the relationship, or raped. I mean, having a “employer” stake in this, it would be plausible that if the girl claimed that this had happened, it would be believable. The girl was very straightforward to us that she had participated willingly, but what if her story changed?
During all of the conversations, we had invited an outsider, non family member, to sit in and listen, so that we had a witness of the events. In addition, this outsider was able to sit down with the maid in private and talk with her to hear her story. So, this way, somebody other than a family member would be able to make an account of what had been said.
At one point, the maid began to get a little defensive, angry, and such. At this point, I became rather worried. One of the worries that Feyma and I shared was that when the maid went home to the Provinces, her family may encourage her to “go after” us, because “foreigners have money” if you know what I mean. They may encourage her to change her story, claim rape or being forced into it, and then offer to be quiet in exchange for money. So, when the maid began to voice a little anger, I told her that she was free to leave in the morning, but that before she left, we would make a visit to the Department of Labor and she could make a statement of what had happened, and that she had been treated fairly at our house. Furthermore, that she had voluntarily become involved with my nephew.
The maid was obviously not happy that she would have to submit such a statement. She was concerned about her reputation, because she did not want to publicly admit to being involved in a such a way. Here in the Philippines, although such things happen, they are rarely admitted publicly because it is scandalous. So, we reached an agreement with the maid. She would not have to go to the Department of Labor, however, she would sit down with that same outside party and write down a statement on paper, which she would sign, and the other person would sign as a witness. We would not be present when she wrote her statement, so that she felt no pressure from us.
This was agreeable, and the maid wrote and signed her statement. It reads out exactly as things happened, and blames nobody for the events. I am happy with that, and I do not feel that there is any way now that Feyma and I could be held liable for what occurred.
The lessons here are several:
- Do not get involved romantically or sexually with an employee.
- Always protect yourself. Have people there who can witness critical conversations. Get written statements from people and make sure they are signed.
- Treat your employees with respect and kindness. You never know when they will suddenly have something that they can hold over your head, and if you have not treated them well, things could go badly for you.
- Supervise closely what happens in your house. If you don’t, you may pay the price for something which you didn’t even know was happening.
Over the years that I have lived in the Philippines, I have known several expats who claimed to me that they were sexually involved with their household helpers. I always cringe when I hear this. It is not a good idea, and in my opinion should be avoided by all means. If it is a sexual relationship that you are looking for, there are plenty of such opportunities in the Philippines. You don’t need to use your helpers for that.
As of now, it appears that this unfortuante event has come to an end. I hope that we have heard the end of it, anyway, because I don’t think that any further word on this would be any good news! So, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.