Sunday, August 29, 2010

Focus on Arabia’s Abusive Masters and their Mistreated Maids

Map of the Arabic Peninsula, displaying Saudi ...Image via Wikipedia

Painful narratives of maids being abused by their millionaire masters in Arabia have escaped the attention of many Arab governments. Natives of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait who have little or no time for house chores usually hire maids brought into the country from as far as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These maids who do all the dirty works for Arab households often work grueling hours without breaks while under constant supervision and harassments.

The overall management of maids coming into these countries is the prerogative of employment agencies and influential individual figures having connections with the immigration departments of their respective governments. However, the responsibility of the agency ends immediately a maid is transferred to a household or employer. The only time an agency may get involved is when a problem occurs.

Stories of maids subjected to worst forms of torture abound in the Arabian Peninsula. With strict religious and cultural observances in place in these countries, a sexually agitated male household member in search of sexual relief may indiscriminately and forcefully rape or assault an innocent maidservant without the least fear of judicial ramifications. In a land fraught with gender stratification, color bar, and xenophobia, the number of unreported incidents experienced by innocent maids and intentionally swept under the carpet must be enormous.

The few demeaning or dehumanizing occurrences surreptitiously reported to the media include cases of rape, banging of heads against walls, rape and assaults, denial of wages, overwork, denial of sleep, rest, and day-offs, driving of nails and needles into the bodies of poor maidservants, refusal to communicate with friends, relatives, and the outside world, racial slurs or occasional use of annoying epithets, and denial of food and medication.

Despite the use of the N-word by radio host Dr. Laura responding to a caller of color rattling millions of people worldwide, in the Arab world, the use of exasperating and unpleasant names like Hemar (donkey), Kelb (dog), Aswad (black), and Abed (slave) serve as daily condiments and appellations hurled at people of color that may never be appealed or objected.

Once upon a time in one of the cities of Arabia, a man of color walked into a restaurant in a busy section of the city, sat in a corner and then ordered himself a meal from one of the waiters. Minutes later he was brought the food he ordered. After finishing eating and paying the bill, he decided to sit for a while and talk on the phone. In the meantime, while the cutlery he used was being taken away, seven Arab men walked in, sat opposite where he was sitting, and ordered food. Thinking that the man they were about to backbite was not paying attention, one of the men spoke to the waiter taking the orders by telling him, “please don’t serve us with the plate used by that abed (slave)”. Feeling insulted but pretending not to have heard their conversation, the man carefully left the scene. A few minutes later, the aggrieved man returned to the restaurant and shot seven of them dead before they could finish eating their hot, spicy, and delicious meals.

The wisdom behind this story is "all men have been created equal"; we humans chose to divide ourselves". Never underestimate a fellow human being. Never use color, creed, sex, religion, political affiliation, country of origin, and other factors to separate yourself from others. The human DNA is a testimony to the equality of the human race.
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