Monday, April 30, 2007

STOP, Must take action NOW!

WE NEED TO MONITOR LABOUR AGENCIES so to avoid violations and set restrictions!

1. STOP labour recruiting agencies from allowing customers to pay them in installments, they're hiring people not buying cars or furniture.

2. Labour agencies must allow NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to access their facilities including apartments (tiny rooms) that labour expats stay at, NOW.

WE NEED TO MONITOR LABOUR AGENCIES so to avoid violations and set restrictions!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

OH PLEASE!!! this is ridiculous

قوانين العمل واضحة
الكويت: نحترم حقوق العمالة ونعاقب من يسيء إليها
كتب حامد السيد:أكدت الكويت حرصها على احترام حقوق الانسان ومن ضمنها احترام حقوق العمالة المنزلية، مشيرة الى انها تعاقب من يسيء الى العامل وتحفظ له حقه.وذكر مسؤول في وزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل انها «جهزت قانون العمل الجديد الذي يحفظ الحقوق»، مشيرة الى ان «قوانين العمل واضحة ونسعى الى الارتقاء بها أفضل وأفضل».وكانت تظاهرة شهدتها الفلبين أمس تطالب بحقوق الانسان الفلبيني، ورفعت خلالها خادمات فلبينيات عملن في الكويت لافتات ذكرن فيها انهن تعرضن لمعاملة سيئة على أيدي مخدومهن وأشرن الى ان السفارة الفلبينية لم تفعل لهن شيئا، ولفتن الى ان 700 فلبينية ما زلن في السجون الكويتية.لكن مسؤولا أمنيا كويتيا أكد ان «السجن هو للمخطئ اذا ثبت خطأه بعد المحاكمة العادلة، والكويت لا تسيء للسجين من أي جنسية كانت»، مشيرا الى ان «السجناء جميعا يلقون معاملة كريمة».وأكد المدير العام لشركة الحقوق العمالية المختصة في متابعة امور العمالة المنزلية في الكويت هاشم ماجد ان «الكويت سباقة الى المحافظة على حقوق الانسان وحماية حقوق العمالة الوافدة بصفة عامة والعمالة المنزلية بصفة خاصة».ونفى ماجد في تصريح لـ «الوطن» ما تناقلته التظاهرة الفلبينية في شأن انتهاك حقوق الخدم الفلبينيين في الكويت وايداع اكثر من 700 فلبينية في السجن، مشيراً الى ان «اي شخص يودع في السجن يكون بعد محاكمة عادلة من قبل القضاء الكويتي النزيه نتيجة اي مخالفات للقوانين في البلاد».واكد ان «المواطن الكويتي معروف بتعامله الحسن مع العمالة المنزلية من خلال المزايا العديدة التي يقدمها لها ولا تحظى بها في أي مكان في العالم».واشار الى ان «اعداد العمالة الفلبينية المنزلية في الكويت تبلغ ما يقارب 70 الف عامل وعاملة ويتم علاج المشكلات القليلة لهذه العمالة خلال القنوات الرسمية»، مشيرا الى ان «اعداد العمالة الفلبينية بدأت في التناقص في الفترة الاخيرة بسبب ارتفاع اجورها حيث بدأ المواطن الكويتي في استقدام عمالة منزلية من جنسيات اخرى».تاريخ النشر: الخميس 26/4/2007

This article was on the front page of Al Watan newspaper. 26/4/2007

I wish Al Watan would have given a more thorough and in depth article that does not side with corrupt officials against those who have no support of any kind.

وأكد المدير العام لشركة الحقوق العمالية المختصة في متابعة امور العمالة المنزلية في الكويت هاشم ماجد ان «الكويت سباقة الى المحافظة على حقوق الانسان وحماية حقوق العمالة الوافدة بصفة عامة والعمالة المنزلية بصفة خاصة».<--- this is the vaguest sentence ever! What have they done? where are the statistics? documents?? proofs??!?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Get well soon Maria! our thoughts and prayers are with you

A few months ago Sheryl Mirza from Operation Hope introduced me to Mary Jane Brewster who told me about Maria.

Maria along with her children (now 17 yrs, 14 and 9) came to Kuwait about 6 years ago to accompany her husband who was working in a private company. Two years later the husband just took off. Maria was left alone with her children and without a job, her visa is through her husband. She had to home school her kids, her residency was over and all their passports. There was nothing she can do, they lived on help from their neighbours. She felt pain in her breast from a big lump about four years ago but because she had no residency she was scared to get it checked at a hospital fearing that they might find out she's illegal and she'd be taken away from her kids.

By the time Mary Jane and I found out about her, the cancer was so bad it ate through her skin causing gangrene.She didn't even know it was cancer, she was in so much pain and was still able to go to church, teach the kids and keep a smile on her face. We took her to Maki Juma' cancer center, the doctor said she has 2 weeks to live and said the cancer has spread to other parts of her body. He said if she's lucky she could live for two weeks.

With the help of the Philippine embassy we were able to get them passports within 2 days. She had 6,000 Kd fine for expired residency, which we were able to get the ministry of interior to drop due to her circumstance. They were so happy to go home and be with their family that they haven't seen in 6 years. The whole process took 3 days and Mary Jane dropped them at the airport. She says they were all smiles. Alhamdullah. It's been almost 3 months now and Maria has finished her Chemotherapy and is starting with her second chemotherapy. The kids have gone to school. And their bills are taken care of by an anonymous donor from Kuwait.

I write this to you because god forbid this situation ever happens again, we must allow ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY to have access to our hospitals even without residency, because people come before anything. After the patient is treated then hospital officials can call authorities.

There were 3 other situations this year, where the patients had to seek medical help and were refused because of residency issues. And these are the ones I know of, I'm sure there are many more.

I am posting the picture of the Maria's breast. This is what happens when you're not allowed medical help in Kuwait.

Also, we must all do regular breast examinations, girls in the 20's can get the cancer. Momograms and Sonograms are very important.

Warning: The picture below is VERY disturbing. Please do not show it to young children.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Got answers?? make this make sense!

Why would لجنة الدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان be in اللجان المؤقتة isn't it an important issue?? shouldn't the human rights committee in the parliament have a permanent place??

Also, لجنة شئون المرأة I don't understand why there should be a committee for woman?? I don't see a committee for men??? Any issue a woman has should be under the human rights committee, dosen't that go against our constitution?? You would think atleast the parliament would be the appropriate place to implement the constitution.

This committee to me is a constant reminder that the members of the parliament in kuwait do not see women as their counterpart. I almost think it's intentional. (hmm?!)

But then again....... What do i know!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


After almost two years of reading what kuwaitis are posting, especially their coverage on politics in Kuwait, and their incredibly insightful views and intelligent analysis on current affairs. Noticing their impact on society and how they were able to reach the masses and made changes on our internal politics and especially the effect they had on the younger generations, I decided to use this media to benefit my cause, in the hopes that you all can join me or atleast help spread the awareness about a lot of social issues in Kuwait, mostly human rights issues such as the mistreatment of labour expats.

A lot of us in Kuwait have won the lottery, it is the lottery of birth. By lottery of birth I mean we were born into priviledged family, and those who are less priviledged have the priviledge of being born Kuwaiti. Kuwait has been taking care of us, it has provided us with many benefits that a lot of people around the world would envy us for. Almost every mother in Kuwait has the help of a care taker in raising her kids, we have drivers, we have cooks and we have house keepers. THIS IS A LUXURY AND NOT A NECESSITY!!! With this luxury comes many many human rights violations.

I graduated from college in the U.S in 2003 and I came to Kuwait in the hopes of making a difference some how, within a week from my arrival I knew the difference I wanted to make was to protect the people that need protection the most. One heartbreaking incident was a referral from my nanny asking me to help her friends who have been mentally abused and overworked with minimum pay and no time off. When I got involved I found a lot of obstacles and made a lot of people mad. I then decided to look into the legality part of it ofcourse realizing that there is no law to protect what we would refer to as "domestic labour", people that work in our homes and not in private companies. There are rules and regulations in the interior ministry but that's as far as it goes.

I was furious, embarassed and anxious to change this injustice. Many sleepless nights thinking of what I can do and where I would start in order to even try to tackle this situation. That's how I started in this organization, fortunately for me, Shaikh Athbi Salim Al Ali was "jail hopping" in the hopes of helping expats in trouble, he worked incognito with Faisal Mazyad Al-Masoud who had an organization called Social Work Group or something of that sort. Shaikh Athbi welcomed me with open arms and a year and a half later we got the approval from the government and Social Work Society of Kuwait was created.

Since then we've been able to do research studies on ways to change labour laws, we've worked with almost all the embassies including the U.S and British embassies in dealing with indivual violations. Other members in the organization are dealing with other issues like woman's rights, child abuse and the inhumane situation with the "bidoun". We have Iftar buffet in the central prison for prisoners to meet with their families twice a week for four weeks during the holly month of ramadan and the dinner includes non-muslims as well. And I mention non-muslims because I also found out that people's priorities, when it comes to charity here, are to muslims first and that's just infuriating.

A few examples of human rights violations we've delt with are:

1. Manang (used to address older sister or person in philipino) Rose, who worked for a major furniture company for six years told her sponsor that she wanted to work somewhere else and asked to be transfered, he immediately accused her of being a runaway to authorities in order to have her deported so that the other company would not get her expertise. Atleast 25 situations like this have come forth to us in less than a year.

2. Ofcourse the typical situation where sponsors take money from the person for working visa permits and uses that as a business.

3. Physical abuse, Mental abuse, verbal abuse by sponsors.

4. House keepers with overtime and wake up in the morning with only 4 hours of sleep and no afternoon rest time in the afternoon for minimum wage.

5. One situation was an Indian lady working for a kuwaiti family went to the police to complain about her sponsor not paying her for 6 months, I was called in to provide a lawyer (we have a pro-bono lawyer on hand, hopefully we can have more lawyers assisting us), the sponsor started bargaining with me not to pay the full amount because he was in a financial crisis. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!! why have this luxury (not necessity) if you can't afford it!

Anyway, the point of this blog is to get as many people involved, if not in person atleast through the net to help spread awareness and find solutions. Also, to understand that people are equal in their rights no matter of race, color, religion or nationality. We should not turn a blind eye on these issues, I will give many examples of violations that have and are still happening in future posts. I beg you to help stop this before these problems become an epidemic!

I have decided to write in english so that I don't limit these issue to Kuwait only, in the hope that the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and other asian countries with labour expats in Kuwait get involved.

Here's a link to the contitution of Kuwait, our pride and joy, our protector and the protector of human rights and civil liberties for everyone living in Kuwait. and the amendments that relate to human right issues

Also, here's a link to the members of the parliament that are in the human rights committee in the parliament.

Maybe they can include domestic labour to the labour law? would they lose voters?