- The body of Joanna Daniela Demafelis was found inside a freezer in Kuwait
- Her family said Joanna was being watched by her employer and rarely communicated with them
- The Kuwaiti government is already hunting down Joanna's employers
The family of Joanna Daniela Demafelis in Iloilo was shocked when they found out she was dead and abandoned inside a freezer in Kuwait.
They had no idea she was being abused or mistreated by her employers.
In a report by CNN Philippines, Joyce Demafelis said their last phone call with Joanna was in 2016. They never heard anything from her all of last year.
Joanna flew to Kuwait in 2014 to work as a domestic helper.
Since then, her family only got to talk to her thrice a year until 2016. Their rare phone conversations were only a few minutes long.
"Sabi ko kung may nangyayari ba diyan sa iyo kamusta kalagayan mo. Sabi niya okay lang naman daw siya. Kasi nagwoworry kami ni Papa sa probinsya tsaka ni Mama kasi marami 'yung nangyayari sa Kuwait," said Joyce to CNN Philippines.
Despite the assurances from her sister, however, Joyce felt something strange in her sister's demeanor when they talk.
"'Yung sa'kin, parang binabantayan siya ng amo niya. Eh sa isang taon tatlong buwan lang siya nagpaparamdam sa amin at tsaka tatlong buwan nagpapadala," said Joyce.
The 29-year-old Filipina wanted to come home this 2018, according to the last phone call Joyce got in 2016.
Her body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment this week. Authorities said it may have been kept there for more than a year because her employers left Kuwait in November 2016.
Her body was also found with torture marks and signs of being strangled.
Joanna's employers were Lebanese and had fled to Lebanon two years ago. Initial investigation revealed that her employer, Nader Essam Assaf, is wanted for falsification of checks.
He and his wife are already being hunted by Kuwaiti authorities.
"Kuwait authorities are searching for the couple in Lebanon to arrest them with the help of Interpol," said Raul Dado, executive director of the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs.
According to GMA News Online, an investigation had already been filed in Kuwait.
Dado added that embassy officials are already in talks with the Kuwaiti government and Joanna's local and Kuwaiti recruitment agencies to bring justice to her case.
Following news of Joanna's death, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a total deployment ban on OFWs to Kuwait.
A total of seven OFWs who recently died in Kuwait due to abuses are being assisted and investigated by the Philippine government.
According to Gulf News, at least 103 OFWs died in Kuwait in 2017 and 82 died in 2016.
Kuwait is one of the most popular labor destination for Filipinos in the Middle East.
There are around 260,000 OFWs in Kuwait. Most of them are household service workers.
An estimated 10,800 are undocumented.
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