Sunday, April 22, 2007

Introduction

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. http://www.majlesalommah.net/run.asp?id=4# and the amendments that relate to human right issues http://www.majlesalommah.net/run.asp?id=249.

Also, here's a link to the members of the parliament that are in the human rights committee in the parliament.
http://www.majlesalommah.net/run.asp?id=976#.

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

3 comments:

Archeology Uncovered said...

I'm super glad you have this taw3iya online.

Register with KuwaitBlogs.com as well.

Spread the word via other bloggers who will hopefully highlight this issue.

Well done, i'm proud of you :D

skunk said...

great blog you have here.

this country needs more people like yourself.

good luck and all the best.

the11thmuse said...

:)
i feel the urge to burst into song..

"imagine all the people, living life as one.. yo'u'o'u you may say i'm a dreamer but i'm not the only one i hope some day you'll join us.."

Way to go!!! min ams wana i'm telling people about the organisation... l'chaim:D