Filipino maid in Saudi Arabia says boss's mother scalded her

Story highlights

  • Graphic photos emerged on Facebook showing a Filipino maid with burns
  • The maid claims her Saudi boss's mother poured boiling water on her
  • She says it was down to a simple misunderstanding
  • The photos sparked outrage on social media

Disturbing and graphic images have emerged on Facebook that appear to show a Filipino maid with burns all over her back, arms and legs after her Saudi boss's mother allegedly poured boiling water on her.

The 23-year-old woman, Pahima Alagai Palacasi, was at the home of her employer's mother on May 4 when "her sponsor's mother poured boiled water over Palacasi due to a simple misunderstanding," according to a Philippines Labor Ministry statement posted Tuesday.

While at hospital, Palacasi was able to reach a relative who lives in Riyadh who helped her sneak out of hospital. The cousin then posted graphic photos of Palacasi's wounds on Facebook, showing bright pink and white scalded skin all over her back, the backs of her arms, and parts of her leg, according to the ministry statement.

The Philippines government said it would help Palacasi file a case against her employer and has suspended the work of the Saudi recruitment agency that hired her.

The English-language Saudi daily Arab News reported Wednesday that Riyadh police were conducting a joint investigation of the case.

Palacasi alleges that her employer began physically abusing her within days of her arrival, kicking and lashing her after she complained of being homesick. She also claimed her employers deprived her of food.

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"[My employer's mother] asked me to throw away all the leftover food but I didn't do it so that when I got hungry I could have something to eat," Palacasi said in a cellphone video reportedly taken by her cousin and released to ABS-CBN, a CNN affiliate in the Philippines.

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.

"Please help me," Palacasi says in the video. "Help me file a case against my employer. I suffered a lot."

Palacsi is currently at an embassy shelter in Riyadh. "She is stable, in high spirits, and is relating well with fellow [Filipino workers]" according to the government statement. CNN has been unable to reach Palacasi or her cousin.

Saudi authorities told CNN they were unaware of details of the case, but would look into the matter.

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