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Kuwait's inhumane labor practice: we cannot afford to ignore

By       Message GM Solaiman       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Last week in a rare development in Middle East, thousands of Bangladeshi workers went to strike protesting poor living conditions, serious abuse and human rights violation. I hope you were not surprised with the aftermath of this. Instead of addressing the human rights abuse issue that has been happening for years, the complainers got hammered. Why would we surprise? This is Middle East after all. No one has a right to complain. If you do complain or try to raise the issue to get a long over due attention, all you get is yet more abuse and rampage. Well, for thousands of poor legal employees, you got a force deportation. Asia News reported on August 05 that "Kuwait has expelled a thousand workers from Bangladesh, believed to be responsible for violent protest demonstrations, but at the same time it has announced a law against "visa merchants" and the exploitation of foreign workers, the factors that unleashed the workers' protest." It also reported that "last week, hundreds of employees of Kuwaiti businesses unleashed a series of demonstrations to ask for better labor conditions and fair pay. The motives of the protest include forms of sexual violence suffered by women who act as domestic workers. This phenomenon, together with that of forced labor, was denounced in June in a report from the U.S. state department on the condition of workers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar". Wait a minute. Are we talking about "sexual violence" toward female workers? Is this happening in an Arab nation? I believe Islam forbid that and abusers are supposed to get stoned-to-death punishment. Apparently, that does not apply for our oil-rich Arab friends there. My twelve-miles-a-gallon ML350 is literally making these guys rich. Every mile I drive, that money is enabling these inhuman beings to bring more women as "domestic workers" from poor nation and sexually abuse them. I feel morally responsible, don't you? We must intervene and take action. According to a report there are about 200,000 workers from Bangladesh in the Gulf countries, mostly employed for cleaning services or as security guards. "The Kuwait Authorities have already directed the companies to pay the minimum wages and warned them of tough actions in case of any failure" New Nation reported on August 4. Funny as it sounds! The poor workers have been arrested, but the abusing companies were only "warned". Why is the double standard? "But similar promises were made following protests in 2005. Three years later, Nazrul and his fellow workers are still waiting for a change" Raymond Barrett reported from Kuwait City. Make no mistake that it is just a kick in the air this time as well. "Kuwait has $39,300 per capita income. Poor workers there get $75 per month? What type of culture is this?" a friend of mine has asked. Compare that with USA which has $45,800 per capita income and $8.00 per hour (in California). Does any civilized human being live in Kuwait? Or are they all animals running the show there? This is even worse than slavery. Each of these workers is possibly one of the poorest people in the world. Yet they paid as much as $3,500 to middleman in Bangladesh and agents from Kuwait to get legal papers and come here. People don't sell there home and pay that much money to get into slavery. They sold there home or whatever they had to get a job. Now they lost both the job and the home. What a cruel justice to them. Where are the human right groups? What are they doing? Are we too afraid to ask tough questions to our oil rich "friends"? We have to start looking at these severe injustices and evil practices if we are looking for real friends in Muslim world instead of extremist. These gross injustices are what create the breeding ground of extremism. When are we going to learn and start acting? [GM Solaiman writes from Silicon Valley, California. He can be reached at]


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G.M. Solaiman writes from Silicon Valley, California.

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