Filipina Trafficking Survivors Appears on The Atlantic


“The shackles introduced by this visa provide the diplomatic employer with incredible power.”

Damayan leaders and survivors of modern-day slavery Edith Mendoza and Sherile Pahagas are the subject of the May 21st article, “Diplomats Are Getting Away With Abusing Their Children's Nannies” in The Atlantic. Edith and Sherile, two Filipina domestic workers, sued their former employers, German diplomat and his wife, Pit and Mareike Koehler for stolen wages after they were forced to labor 90-100 grueling hours a week, and were paid well below the minimum wage (about $4/hour) with no overtime pay. However, because of diplomatic immunity, Pit and Mareike Koehler could not be subjected to a lawsuit or prosecution under the US laws, and the case was dismissed in November 2017.

Edith and Sherile are NOT Alone. Every day, more than 6,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines to work as migrant workers in over 200 countries, many of those are women migrant workers. Those working for diplomats are particularly vulnerable and Filipinos are the number one source of domestic workers working in diplomats homes.

In The Atlantic article, Ariel Ramchandani writes that Edith’s and Sherile’s experience is part of an increasingly familiar tale of abuse and modern slavery of domestic workers by diplomats, whose diplomatic immunity translates into impunity when those diplomats commit crimes.

Edith told Ramchandani that her prayers were answered, when she found Damayan, “Working there,” she said, “I found out my rights.” While Edith's and Sherile's case was dismissed in the US, the fight for justice is NOT over. Edith works for Damayan as a Worker Organizer, working directly with other trafficking survivors. She, and Sherile, are incredible forces of resilience and heart, and powerful organizers. The Justice for Edith and Sherile Campaign continues and together, through Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Filipino domestic workers are raising their voices against wage theft and human rights abuses to fight against modern-day slavery.

Damayan is standing strong and working hard to fight labor trafficking and modern-day slavery. To support Damayan’s work, Donate Here: