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A solidarity network against the exploitation of vulnerable women

Marcela Bahamón, who helped rescue the exploited women from Godelleta with her association AIPHC.Miguel Angel Polo

The fact that the master of the house got up to pour himself a glass of water could be the reason for a row on the part of the lady. The girls were there for that and to take care of all the housework. This is what one of the women contacted through an Internet ad by a couple now charged with the crimes of trafficking in human beings, against the rights of workers and continued fraud tells it. “They promised you a thousand things to get you screwed up and then they didn’t pay you. They told you that they had friends in the Civil Guard and in Immigration who would help them get papers, but that, like everything in life is money, you had to give them money for the procedure, ”Geovanna Bermúdez explains by phone.

This 40-year-old Colombian worked for five months as an intern last year in the villa rented by the couple in a residential area in the municipality of Godelleta, in the mountainous foothills of Valencia. “They paid me the first month with a dropper, the second not full and then nothing. They told me that they had their businesses, that they had problems with the bank, with the Treasury, that they were from a rich family and were about to receive an inheritance and that they would pay me. I have a daughter in Colombia and one had a debt there, and needed to get paid. I contacted a girl who was in the house before me and she told me to leave, that she lost four months of salary, that they also told her the same stories, “she recalls from Teruel, where she works now.

Geovanna left and others arrived. Up to three young Latin American women, in a precarious situation, coincided during the confinement in the service of Rosa and José, a middle-aged couple who do not have children, and their two dogs. “The couple always looked for that profile of migrant women, although they did not specify it in the application. The more vulnerable the better ”, says Marcela Bahamón, sitting on a terrace in Quart de Poblet, a town near Godelleta. This 47-year-old Colombian has been key in the arrest by the Civil Guard and the Local Police of the couple, who have been released with charges.

It is part of the Intercultural Association of Home and Care Professionals (AIPHC) that is dedicated to accompanying women, helping them, informing them of their rights and even rescuing them. They are connected at the national level by a WhatsApp group and by Facebook, and more than a hundred workers exchange information and data. “In this case, a whatsapps came to us from Barcelona asking if someone in Valencia could support a girl who had asked for help, who had not paid for a few months, who could not leave the house because she had no money,” says Marcela. She contacted the girl, there were two more in the same situation, and as soon as she gave her Godelleta’s address, she immediately connected the dots. “I told them that they were going to pay them, that they were exploiting them, that it had already happened to others, but they trusted that they would,” he says. Finally, the three domestic workers were convinced, but it was not easy to leave in full confinement, without resources and without mediating a complaint with evidence.

Marceló prepared the way by expanding the network of contacts. She spoke with Psychologists without Borders, who contacted a Social worker from Godelleta, with the feminist assembly, with other organizations. The purpose was to “create a resistance box”, find accommodation, obtain resources to take in the girls who had neither money nor nowhere to go. In the end, they left the house and the complaint was filed, explains Marcela from behind her mask that bears the motto of her NGO “United we are strong, woven, invincible.”

The Civil Guard reported last month of the operation that it called Fake-Job (false job): “The young women carried out domestic tasks for months, until finally they were forced to leave the house without having received their salary, leaving them in a situation check out. In addition, the perpetrators used tricks to swindle the young women, who gave them part of their savings, which the couple told them to use in beneficial investments for the victims ”. The armed institute has so far identified seven female victims of the couple since 2017.

Rosa, the lady of the house, responds to the telephone call from this newspaper: “What I have to say I will say before the judge. I will only say that everything is totally false and it will be seen. The judge already said it once ”. And now, I need to rest ”. It refers to the lawsuit filed by Geovanna Bermúdez for non-payment of their wages. It was dismissed. “When I filed the complaint, they called me an accuser and a rebel. Unfortunately, I lost it due to lack of evidence. I had them; you had recorded conversations on your cell phone but it got damaged. He’s Colombian and they couldn’t fix it for me. And about the WhatsApp messages, the judge said that they could be manipulated. But, in the long run, justice arrives ”.