DUBAI—Thousands of miles from home and no one to keep her company except for a yellow teddy bear that lies beside her hospital bed, Baikan Musa can only communicate by blinking her eyes.
The 29-year-old Filipina maid was paralysed after a hit-and-run accident last New Year’s Eve and has since been confined to a bed in Rashid Hospital, Dubai since then.
However the penniless expatriate is unable to pay for her own spiralling medical bills and the fact that she was jaywalking when she was hit by the car means that insurance companies are refusing to pay out.
Rashid Hospital says that Baikan Musa’s medical expenses should be covered by her visa sponsor or the agency which recruited her to work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
However her sponsor cancelled her contract a few days before the accident and her agency claim they are not liable because she was crossing the road illegally at the time, rather than using a pedestrian crossing.
According to reports, her family have been traced but are said to be made destitute by a cyclone which recently struck the Philippines. Her brother is said to have finally saved enough to obtain a passport and will visit the UAE on August 22nd.
However with her family unable to provide the full-time professional care that she requires and no official confirmation from hospitals in Manila that she will be looked after upon her return, it is unclear what will become of Baikan Musa.
Dubai is a magnet for expatriates from the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines and many of whom work for higher wages in Dubai and send the money home to their partners and children.
However many suffer a lack of labour rights and discriminatory salary rates. A Filipina maid working in Dubai can expect to earn around US$270 a month for a job that requires living in the house of a wealthier family. Many complain of sexual harassment and some are forced to work as prostitutes.
“We have a maid at home who is employed by my uncle,” one British expatriate, who did not wish to be named, told this newspaper. “He took her in and gave her a decent wage. Prior to that she was forced to work as a prostitute and suffered appalling treatment.”
Whatever was the story behind Baikan Musa’s contract being terminated a few days before the accident eight months ago, it is clear that now it will never be told.