This is my wife’s niece, Rhea. Today, she leaves her home in the Philippines that she shares with her parents, for a job in Saudi Arabia. Many Filipino’s make this trip every year. But, this doesn’t make the trip any less dangerous. Along with her travel documents and assignment information, she’ll also be issued one other mandatory article for her job. A burka. This is real, now. And, I’m worried for her.

She’s travelling to a state where women already have fewer rights than men. Though not exactly taliban-country, it still imposes many restrictions that we in the west would find incomprehensible. On top of that, she’ll be a foreigner without rights, in a land that doesn’t speak her language, with no friends to help, and nowhere to run if something bad happens. She’s pretty, young, and totally alone. You can do the math. All this, for a few dollars more than what she currently makes as a nursing assistant.

Her mom thinks this is a bad idea.

My wife thinks this is a bad idea.

I know this is a bad idea.

I’ve seen the travel shows. I understand that Saudi Arabia isn’t as fundamentalist as other countries, and it doesn’t have a history of grinding it’s foreign workers into the ground like, say, Qatar or Dubai. But, Saudi history with foreign workers is still very grim, and reports of abuse are rampant. Also, she’s traveling to a Muslim country during the greatest wave of fundamentalist Islam in decades. And, has no way out once there.

I hope this will end as an adventure, and not a mistake. I hope she finds many new friends and her new work profitable. And most of all, I hope to see her safely back home again. Safe travels, Rhea.

Saudi Arabia photo courtesy of