Human Rights Watch
Wealth and power can be used for good or for evil purposes. In many Middle East countries, foreign workers are cheap and plentiful. Many have their passports confiscated and they are at the mercy of their employers. I know this for a fact, because I was in Qatar and spoke to a number of taxi drivers. Most drivers had to share dormitories and work long taxi hours. In each case, the taxi driver was sending money home to support his family and provide an education for his kids. Now, Qatar is building seven cities for the FIFA soccer team.
Human Rights Watch has documented unsafe working conditions particularly in the construction business. Many foreign workers have died at work. For females, there is the danger of sexual harassment and rape. To report such incidents puts the woman in danger. In certain Gulf countries to falsely accuse an employer is a serious offence that can place the accuser in jail.
Racism, Sexism and Poverty-ism.
I am not sure if the third word exists. There are more than 600,000 foreign workers in Kuwait. Each employer comes with his/her own set of human credentials. Some are good to their employees and those actions would be inspired by the Koran. Like employers expressing other world-wide religions, compassion and justice may take a backseat to power and arrogance. Like any bully, there is a sense of entitlement to treat others as worthless. Perhaps, a sense of sick enjoyment comes from the power to humiliate. Nearly every family in Kuwait (population 3 million) has a servant. Children grow up watching how their parents treat their workers. It has also become a symbol of middle class wealth to have a servant. The once exploited is now likely to become the exploiter.
Human Rights Watch Stories
In Kuwait, another Ethiopian woman called his boss, “Mama.”
“Mama would close the fridge; we were not allowed to take any food,” the woman is quoted as saying. “She also beat me if there was anything wrong, like a tiny speck of dust. I worked from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m.” (19 hours per day).
It’s not uncommon for employers to lock their servants inside apartments and compounds, Begum said — even though they can be arrested and deported for leaving without their employers’ permission.
A Filipino worker — told Human Rights Watch what happened when her boss found out she’d sought help after working long hours with little food.
“After returning home, the employer hit me in the face and said, ‘I’ll let you die first before you go,’ ” the report reads. “She [dragged me by] my blouse in her two hands and pushed me. She threw me out of the window from the third floor.”
This woman woke up in a hospital, according to the report, and learned that her employers had filed charges against her and said she tried to kill herself.
“I came here to work, not to kill myself,” she told the agency.
The Ethiopian woman’s fall was also reported as a suicide attempt, according to local reports. So were the injuries of eight other women that were interviewed.
“All of them said they were trying to escape abuse.”
In 2015, Kuwait passed its first protection for foreign workers! Can you imagine this was passed in this late date???
The law prohibits employers from confiscating their passports. Employers must provide workers with one day off each week, paid vacation and a maximum 12-hour working day.
This law is just on paper. Many workers are just prisoners in their employers’ home until their contracts run out. There have been many suicides.
Exposing Injustice – The Video Way
In this story, a ruthless, heartless criminal employer videoed her maid’s fall from a seventh floor. Luckily, for the maid, she escaped with a broken arm. Will the maid receive financial compensation?
Social media has changed the world by exposing crimes of the powerful on the powerless. A reporter, Abigail Hauslohner, (Washington Post) documented the lives of men who worked on construction sites in Qatar. After hard labour, these men would return to a labour camp. They slept in crowded, bug-infested bunks. Their work showed a thriving Qatar to the world. Last year, an Indian worker filmed his working conditions in Saudi Arabia. This time the VIDEO became a tool in the hands of the oppressed.