Joanna Demafelis left Philippines in search for a better life after she was offered a job in the Middle East in 2014.
Little did she know that she would never come back.
The 29-year-old was hired by a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife who lived in Kuwait.
Last year, the heinous couple retorted to domestic abuse and killed her.
After Demafelis went missing for a year, her dead body was reportedly discovered from a freezer placed in an apartment, which was abandoned by the couple. Nader Essam Assaf and his wife Mona Hassoun fled for Syria after the discovery. After an Interpol manhunt, Assaf was detained by the Syrian authorities and was handed over to Lebanon. His wife was placed in custody in Damascus.
After a month of being arrested, Assaf confessed to murdering the domestic worker.
As per local media, there was evidence the maid was tortured and strangled to death.
The Kuwaiti Criminal Court sentenced the couple to death by hanging for the brutal murder.
"The court has ruled in absentia to punish the defendants by hanging on the charges they were assigned to," the court documents, obtained by al-Rai newspaper, read.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was outraged after discovering about the Filipina murder case and vowed to "sell his soul to the devil" to bring the Filipina workers back home, who were being abused and assaulted in Kuwait.
Over 2 million Philippine citizens work overseas, but after Defamelis’ murder and other stories of abuse on domestic workers, Duterte’s government offered free flights home for approximately 10,900 Filipinos who overstayed their visas.
Duterte also ordered a ban on further deployment of workers in the Persian Gulf country.
Defamelis’ family said she was planning to visit them in 2018, but after not being in touch with her for nearly a year, they reported her missing to the authorities. What followed was devastating.
For decades, domestic help in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, hailing from developing south and Southeast Asian countries, have suffered torture at the hands of their wealthy employers. Not much is being done about it, though.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Vivek Prakash