21/01/2006

Time we gave migrant workers their due respect

Vol XXVIII   NO. 307      Saturday      21st January 2006

How long will we just sit back and read stories about housemaids being abused in Bahrain? I realise that the Migrant Workers Protection Society is doing all it can, after the plight of runaway housemaids comes to their attention and the damage is done, but not before and I am in no position to blame them for that.

They are doing a great job, something which is much needed if Bahrain wants to live up to its reputation as a safe haven for migrant workers, who have left their families and lives back home to look for a better future overseas.

Like everything else in Bahrain, whatever happens behind closed doors is a shameful secret and homes are a protected sanctuary, which they should be.

But householders are responsible for all that happens under their roof and such abuse should not be tolerated. The perpetrators should be punished.

Bringing in someone from a Third World country to slave all day for BD40 is ridiculous by all standards.

While in Bahrain, I have come across horror stories of families forcing their maids to sleep on kitchen floors, of couples who lock their fridges and of sick people who actually have so much time to spare and hearts full of spite and hate, that they actually count the tea bags and cans of tinned food in their cupboards.

Having a housemaid is really a widespread phenomena only in our part of the world and is considered a luxury beyond many elsewhere, including here in Canada.

People here frown at me when I shamefully have to admit to them that I have never had to wash dishes, clean my room or do laundry in my life, because we had what amounted to a live-in slave.

When I tell them about the virtually free domestic help we get at home, they are appalled.

You should see the expression on their faces to realise the parasitical existence we indulge in day in, day out.

Even doctors and professors here have housework to do when they return home, something I was ashamed to do when I first came here.

I actually contemplated for a while whether I should seek some domestic help to clean, sweep, dust, wash, cook and wipe my dirt for me.

What put things in place was that everything here has a price tag. If I wanted domestic help, I would have to pay through the nose and give up that Louis Vuitton bag and much more.

I don't know whether the Canadian model is applicable in Bahrain but the plight of housemaids could disappear overnight if their work and services were dignified and they were paid proper wages for their effort.

After all, how much respect do we have for BD40 ?

*Amira Al Hussaini currently lives with her husband in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

16:37 Posted in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Comments

great article.

Posted by: Blog | 25/01/2007

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