DUBAI: Over 4,000 Filipinas have joined a campaign aimed to promote "Pinay" (slang for Filipina) empowerment to assail misconceptions that land them in trouble in the UAE.
The Pinays Take Charge Campaign, launched by Dubai-based Filipino society magazine Illustrado, features a 10-point pledge and guides to help Filipinas understand situations that may get them into legal trouble in the UAE. The campaign has taken off at lightening speed.
"There's a huge cultural difference between the Philippines and the UAE," says Illustrado's Editor-in-Chief Lalaine Chu-Benitez. "What's acceptable back home may not be acceptable here. As a result, a lot of Filipinas unknowingly get into trouble without understanding the root of the problem."
Two out of three Filipinos in the UAE are women — around 400,000 out of the estimated 600,000 — so the need to spread awareness and safety among the community was urgent, said Chu-Benitez.
"It's a symbolic gesture," she says. "I want Filipinas to understand that they are making a commitment; they have rules to live by … that what happens to them is the outcome of their own actions, not someone else's faults. Those actions may have been extremely innocent in the woman's mind. For example, the practice that some Pinay have of calling everyone ‘my friend'. Back home, it's normal. But here, people of certain cultures may misconstrue those words as a come-on, or an open invitation, from the woman."
The "pledge" includes reminders to Filipinas to take responsibility for their bodies, actions, dressing conservatively, being alert to possible dangers or situations that can lead to trouble, and exercising self-respect. Many Pinays do not know that cohabiting and getting pregnant out of wedlock are punishable under UAE law.
"Too often our women put themselves in compromising positions or dangerous situations because they haven't learnt how to love and respect themselves; they haven't learnt how to say ‘no'; they haven't learnt how to fight back. We want to put the power back into their hands."
WHAT THE PLEDGE SAYS
- I am strong, beautiful and brave. I am a woman with a big heart and a bright future
- I will love myself, knowing that nobody else can love me wholly and completely but me, and that I cannot give love, if I have no love
- I will be aware of the rules, understand the customs and cultural sensitivities of my host country, and will adhere to these. Ignorance is not an excuse
- I will nurture myself. I know my worth and I will not settle for less than what I deserve
- I will live with self-respect and will safeguard and not sell out my values
- For more information, or to sign the pledge, visit Illustrado's Facebook page for Empowered Filipinas.