Philippines welcomes death sentence for Kuwaiti woman who killed maid

Philippines welcomes death sentence for Kuwaiti woman who killed maid
The Kuwaiti woman was accused of months of abuse and torture ahead of the domestic worker's killing.
2 min read
02 January, 2021
Filipino workers were briefly banned from going to Kuwait following Villavende's death [Getty]
The Philippines has welcomed a Kuwaiti court's sentencing to death of a woman over the murder of her Filipina maid.

Jeanelyn Villavende, 26, was found dead in December 2019 after months of alleged torture by her Kuwaiti employer.

Autopsy results show the domestic worker had suffered sexual abuse and died of "acute failure of heart and respiration" as a result of multiple injuries.

On Wednesday, a Kuwaiti criminal court sentenced Villavende's employer to death by hanging.

The employer's husband was also sentenced to four years in prison for failing to report and covering up the crime. Neither of the two have been named by the authorities.

The Philippines' embassy in Kuwait welcomed the verdict, thanking the Kuwaiti government for its "swift justice".

"May the court's decision on the Villavende murder case serve as a reminder to everyone that no Filipino is a slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere, and that justice will always come to the defense of the weak and the oppressed," the embassy said in a statement.

The Philippines' foreign minister also welcomed the verdict.

"They took my vow seriously: blood for blood, life for life. Thank you, Kuwait," Teddy Locsin wrote on Twitter. "To my brother, the Kuwait Ambassador to the PH, I owe you a debt of blood gratitude. My thanks and that of my nation and people is eternal."

Relatives of Villavende told local media they welcomed the verdict but felt the killer's husband also deserved a death sentence.

The domestic worker's death came amid a diplomatic crisis between Kuwait and the Philippines, sparked by the killing of another Filipina maid.

The body of Joanna Daniela Demafelis was found in a freezer in early 2018. She had died nearly a year earlier.

Demafelis' employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife who fled the country, were sentenced to death by hanging in absentia.

Both killings saw Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte temporarily ban citizens from traveling to Kuwait.

At the height of the first ban Duterte alleged that Kuwaiti employers routinely raped Filipina workers, forced them to work long hours and fed them scraps.

His government then ordered its embassy staff in Kuwait to help Filipina maids flee allegedly abusive bosses, provoking the emirate to expel the Filipino ambassador.

Kuwait is not the only state to face allegations of abuse against domestic workers; Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon have also been routinely condemned over the issue.

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