Skip to main content

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

By Schams Elwazer, CNN
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
Maid in Saudi says she was scalded
Maid in Saudi says she was scalded
Maid in Saudi says she was scalded
Maid in Saudi says she was scalded
  • 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

(CNN) -- 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.

Filipino maid says employer scalded her

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.

"[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.

Saudi Arabia pledges to protect foreign workers, as Indonesian maids face execution

Saudi minister responds to damning human rights report

Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:47 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.