Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Several things depressed me today...

The first…I discovered that yet another family I know abuse their employees…both the lady of the house and the man seem to find sport in criminally exploiting and beating up the people who work for them…which is pretty horrific…and when I say abuse I mean violence to an extreme…and what is the result? The employees (victims) are deported or fired and the abusers don’t even get a slap on the wrist…What went wrong with us here that people find it acceptable to abuse others and not feel even the slightest bit of remorse? It doesn’t help that this culture rewards you for being Kuwaiti no matter what you do…”hey I just beat a woman up to the point where she had a miscarriage”-Bravo, you get to exchange her for a newer human punching bag…don’t we get outraged unless the victim has a certain passport? Why can’t we differentiate between employing people and owning them?? Who is here to defend the rights of the abused? Does anyone know?... because I don't. Who can they turn to? Who can put a stop to the abuse and to the attitude that it is acceptable?

The second depressing thing was a conversation with a Jordanian man who was born and raised here. Not only that but his aged parents even graduated from high schools here all those decades ago…He works here, and works hard, he knows no other home and identifies with no other country…he loves this place because it is home to him, even with all its scars…problem is, as I am sure you have guessed, that they are not allowed to join the exclusive Kuwaiti club. After decades of life and work and loyalty they are still not good enough to be citizens. Most countries would be proud to have hard working, decent, intelligent and loyal people contribute to their advancement as a nation. It would be a badge of honour to say “this good person here, this is a Kuwaiti”. But no, we just milk people dry till they are of no material use to us and then we tell them to giddy-up on back to the places we continue to insist they belong; except that they were born here, they made their friends and lives and loves here and they have nowhere else to belong to.

I had a good moment when my colleague looked up from the morning paper and said “this is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a while” and she held up the blank daily columns in the Qabas and Siyassah…The columnists left them blank in solidarity with Ahmad Al-Baghdadi and in protest against the attack on free speech and expression …of course the depressing bit is that thy had to get to this point at all…Hope a lot of people turn up at the graduates society 6:30pm today..

25 comments:

Sarpanch said...

I feel terribly sorry for the people who undergo such brutal torture. Can't simply understand, how can someone exploit, thrash, rape a fellow human being.
There is no justification for such violence. According to me, the Law needs to keep in check of such cold-blooded acts. But, in a place where anything can be done with the help of a little 'Waasta'; rules being bent to ones fancy. I sometimes wonder when the vulnerable section of the societies plight be heard ...

Kuwaiti Law = Prejudice.


Have a nice day. :)

TANTALIZE said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the imbalance of power that is manifested in a variety of abuse and batterment. There are a few of us who are very conscientous of our fellow Kuwaitis who practice such atrocities and it is because of people like us who are slowly making a difference. The repressed and misused expats are not totally forgotten! I treat Kuwaitis and expats alike the same in my profession and that is how it starts and will carry over in time. Voicing is another form of revolt/demand. You have done it. I am here. It is working!

Jandeef said...

What's more ridiculous is that if those poor workers dare to go to the police for example to complain. The employer would come and the cops become a scare tactic. "Leave it to us in'addibha lik so she won't do it again," as if going to the police is a crime.

We're the first to brag about our tolerance and how our religion and culture teach us tolerance, yet we're the most racists on a professional level. Not only socially, but our laws are discriminatory. Systematic racism.

Deporting or firing them is relatively OK compared to what you see on the last page of Alrai Al3am of poor housemaids hanging themselves.

I know of some cases where the parents beat the maid up. She would turn to the son for protection and understanding, and the dude is taking advantage of her weakness by asking for sexual favors. In some houses, she's got no choice.

sarah said...

For some reason, I thought that if someone was born in Kuwait and lived there for like 25 years, they could apply for citizenship. But now that I think about it, I'm sure that I'm wrong, since I know a bunch of people who lived there forever and nothing came of it. Or in the case of the people of palestinian and iraqi heritage, who lived their whole lives in Kuwait and then got evicted in 1991. It would be nice if they changed the citizenship laws, but Kuwait has a pretty fragile economy. Assuming that the naturalized citizens would have the same rights as born citizens, that would mean more kids going to the public schools, etc. So, the government would have to do something to raise money--like tax people or have an education fee. Since born-Kuwaitis are likely to be richer than the naturalized Kuwaitis, the burden would be on them (the born kuwaitis). My point is, I don't think whoever makes the laws would be motivated to change the laws in favor of poorer people--especially since the voters are the rich ones.

As for the domestic abuse thing. . . I read an article a few years ago about how Kuwait is on an international watch list for human rights violations (specifically for abusing domestic help). I don't remember the journal or the human rights group. If I come across any useful information I will definitely pass it on to you. Something definitely has to be done. It's bad enough these people feel so desperate that they are willing to leave their families and go to a foreign country to work; they should be guaranteed good working conditions.

kwtia said...

Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts guys..
Sarpanch: Waasta is sinking us deeper and deeper into all the problems we have..
Tantalize- Little efforts are better than nothing but 'slowly making a difference' is too slow sometimes for someone who's life or livelihood is on the line right now..it's pretty awful and I don't know what can be done.

Jandeef, really sad examples...and yes no matter who they go to, it end sup being reason to punish them even more.

Sarah, Hey lady how are you? Yeah that is one of the excuses they use, isn't it..You know there are countries that are in much more precarious situations economically, and they welcome good people into their citizenry because they know that they can contribute positively to the country's development. Unfortunately because material wealth and comfort is king in our minds we are so terrified that the tiniest bit of it will have to spread over more people. When the oil wells finally dry up (or enough money is stolen and put in foreign banks) we will be even more backwards than we were before oil because we forgot the true value of things. We forget that a country's wealth increases with the greater amount of good, hardworking, intelligent people it gains as part of it's human wealth. They are the ones that will make up a Kuwait that will stop being so petty and stagnant and terrified of full development and so obsessed with the frills instead of the essentials. Too bad really, we have already lost so many people that could have raised this country's head up high. Too bad we think citizenship is so exclusive.
thanks also for passing on anything you find, that would be great. See you around :)

Annoyed Kuwaiti said...

This sick habit of being abusive to employees isn’t exclusive to Kuwait but the sad thing is that when u talk about u make it seem that all Kuwaitis do it. Do u do it? About them going to the police I don’t know what police station the ones sited in these comments went to but one time a house maid went to the police and complained about how her employer raped her and got her pregnant guess what the police did they investigated the situation and didn’t just blow her off even though it was a respectable family they later found out that the maid was actually having a relationship with the driver and that he was the father of her child. Now that sounds like a country that doesn’t tolerate abuse. I m not saying Kuwait is perfect but al7amdoulilah we are doing our best. But it just seems to me that most of u here really get off talking about the bad side of Kuwait. Go to a police station in u r district and ask to see the stats of the number of rapes number of house maids that are complaining and compare this to the total population of Kuwait then tell me Kuwait is a bad country. About the citizenship thing Kuwait isn’t the only country. I liked how u described Kuwait sucking the life out of the ppl that work for her and then telling them they don’t deserve to be citizens but u forgot to mention the process went both ways. Unfortunately all I m seeing is ppl bitching about how hard it is to live in a well off country how we r so censored and we don’t have the freedom of free speech and they forget that they are in fact using that freedom each and everyday. If Kuwait was truly a cruel county that does not respect its ppl that is filled with violent abusive ppl no one would live their or want to be a citizen of such a country. Instead of bitching about some stuff start by making sure u don’t do what u r complaining about first and start from the inside before u look out the outside and judging the whole country.

kwtia said...

hi Annoyed, thanks for sharing your thoughts..sorry you are so annoyed, but let me just clarify a couple of things.
No one suggested Kuwait was the only country on the planet that had cases of abuse, but since we are Kuwaitis and in Kuwait we start here and point out our own problems before we go and start pointing fingers at other countries..If other countries do it does that somehow lessen the horror of it happening here?
Sorry if it seemed like I said all Kuwaitis do it, that isn't at all what I meant because obviously I am a Kuwaiti and my family don't commit abuse, so I assume we are not the only ones, since there is nothing particularily special about us that would make us the only family in Kuwait not to abuse people(and all the folks who shared their comments don't do it either). I just took it for granted that people would know I wasn't saying all Kuwaitis are like that because it is a such a basic thing...
Unfortunately I know a lot of people who do abuse others, I have heard from every single person I know about people they know who do it, I have spoken to many expatriats who have experienced it and I have read reports in the news and also in human rights reports that talk about the lack of help and the punishment that people receive for complaining. My uncle is a lawyer who represents victims of abuse and he has horror stories. So it seems that there is a pattern here that needs a solution...are we not allowed to talk about it? Should we just say things are ok, and that there should be nothing done?
Are we really doing our best? Saying we are doesnt make it true.
I don't really think anyone 'gets off' on bringing up upsetting topics. If we didn't love this country we wouldn't bother to try to eliminate its weaknesses.
I have said enough about what I think about our immigration laws, so we will just have to agree to disagree.
I think we have the right to complain about things we think are wrong, just as I welcome your right to complain about my complaints. And before I chose to write about abuse I was pretty sure I didn't do it myself, so your last piece of advice is well taken, and already acted on.
You don't think people should complain and I don't think people should pretend everything is fine the way it is..That's all.
Hope you don't stay too annoyed for too long, take good care.

Jandeef said...

No one meant to generalize here, but we're talking about consistent patterns.

Yes I know of police stories where, as kwtia said it, it becomes another reason for them to be more oppressed. And trust me, it's not gossip.

As you said "one time a house maid went to the police." I guess you'd agree with me that "One Time" doesn't necessarily make everything look nice and dandy. Again. No one generalized things. That one maid happened to be fornicated with by the driver. But trust me again, i know of alot of stories were the men of the family were the heroes.


As to the citizenship issue, this is a sensitive issue. I'd agree with everyone that said those hard workers should be granted the citizenship only if we were a country like america for example. Where the citizenship is more of a pracitical burden. Unlike Kuwait where it's a more of a privelage. Nevertheless, I'm not saying close the door completely. I really believe that outstanding cases should be considered seriously. Kuwait would be more proud of a hard worker that served it for 30 years than a Kuwaiti slacker sitting at his desk sipping coffee and reading the newspaper.

Annoyed Kuwaiti said...

Sorry I didnt mean to say that u shouldnt complain pls complain and I will listen wallah I wanted to show that this problem is not exclusive to kuwait If I seemed to be annoyed with your complaining tara wallah that was not my intention i was annoyed by ppl complaining about kuwait my country. Again Kwtia I want u to complain if u didnt complain and I didnt complain nothing would change. Inshalah next time I will try and focus my comments more clearly :) I would like to hear u r suggestion on th citezenship issue if u dont mind sharing it with me? :)

Annoyed Kuwaiti said...

I was also curious about u r thought on the Bagdady situation can u make a hole post just about this situation? It would be nice to see ppls opinions.

kwtia said...

Hi annoyed, thanks for coming back..I understand the instinct to defend Kuwait against people who just want to make it look bad, but that's not what we do...most bloggers and critics just want to make sure this country lives up to the love we have for it..so when we see something we think is unjust or which just doesn't make sense to us, we mention it, hoping to get either support or an explanation or even a convincing argument against...
But believe me I understand that you want to defend your country, but also believe that you don't need to defend it from me..I am not trying to attack it I am just criticising its failings (and every country has them) and I may certainly be wrong, but how will I know unless I get to share my thoughts and hear other people's as well..
I suppose that is an argument for not censoring Al-Baghdadi. Even if I disagree with him, the civilised thing to do would be to argue with him. If people who want to silence others believed they were right, then they wouldn't have to silence anyone, they would have enough faith in their beliefs to put forth a proper counter-argument. Censoring people only make them more interesting and makes you wonder what people are so afraid of..Our religion invites civilised 'jadal', not censorship.
As for citizenship, there is no excuse for a country swimming in money, which has unfortunately used it to numb and idiotize it's citizenry into laziness (think public sector where most of us work) to refuse citizenship to people who live here, and work to improve this place..It would give people incentive to want to do better things and to have more goodwill for the country...and it might stop us using our nationality to spoon-feed us. I have too many friends that have no idea what they will do when their parent's retire. They were born here, they love being here, they have rarley been back to their family's original country, (or in the case of amny Bidun, they have no other country) and there is no reason they can't be given citizenship except that we keep changing the citizenship law to make sure no one gets it.(15 years, then 25, then just random) I am not saying everyone who steps foot here should immediately get citizenship, I am just saying be fair to those that have been here most of their lives.

Annoyed Kuwaiti said...

Leash Ilbaghdady wanted to argue his opinion? I m asking cus I really dont know the whole situation I just read tid bits here and there from different newspapers and to tell u the truth I m not the type of person that believes everything they read.

Yayan said...

At last! A blog for a cause! (",)

Awesome~~~ (",)

interesting blog entries...

keep on bloggin'

carpe diem!

http://billryan.blogspot.com

sarah said...

Hi

I've been gone for a while, and haven't had a chance to catch up on reading these comments. They look very interesting!

Here is what I have found out so far. . . .

******************************
About domestic abuse:

There is a UN report from 2002 available at http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N03/419/93/PDF/N0341993.pdf?OpenElement
that says (among other things)

"The Bureau for Domestic Workers had been established to oversee agencies
involved in the recruitment of domestic workers. Specific conditions had been imposed on the owners of recruitment agencies, including the provision that they
had to pay a sum of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars to the Ministry as a deposit that a worker could use to return to his or her country. Recruitment agencies were also requested
to draw up a contract between domestic workers and the employer, stipulating minimum rights and guarantees for both parties. Civil courts had competence for
hearing disputes arising from the application of a domestic worker’s contract, in respect of which the statute of limitations expired only 15 years from the date of
termination of the employment. All suits filed by workers under the Labour Code were exempt from court fees and were heard by the courts as a matter of priority. The Bureau for Domestic Workers further took preventive measures against domestic workers’ sponsors who had infringed the law, consisting of prohibiting
them from recruiting domestic workers or from issuing worker residence permits under their guarantee. The competent authorities were engaged in drafting a private
sector labour code, taking into account comments and recommendations made by the committee of experts on the application of international labour conventions and recommendations."

That was on page 5 (towards the bottom) of the report. There were other things about labor laws in Kuwait on that page. That paragraph struck me because they mention a bureau by name. Have you heard of this Bureau? If so, are they of any use?

Also, the UN Office of Human Rights has information about Kuwait at http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?c=97&su=103

**********************************
About Immigrant workers:

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is meeting in May. Among their concerns are: right to work; to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work. More information is available at http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=60457&src=0

There is an article about bidun from 2000 available at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/kuwait/

It seems that the articles I read (and mentioned in my previous posts) were from around 1995-2000, and things have changed a lot since then (or so it seems). My how time flies when you get old!

**********************************
Women's rights:


The Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women has its convention online at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm

Kuwait had reservation about the following (in fall 2004):

1. For women to "vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies" because it "conflicts with the Kuwaiti Electoral Act, under which the right to be eligible for election and to vote is restricted to males."

2. The right to "grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children" because "it runs counter to the Kuwaiti Nationality Act, which stipulates that a child's nationality shall be determined by that of his father."

3. Equal rights and responsibilities for men and women "with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount" because "it conflicts with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah, Islam being the official religion of the State."

These reservations are available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGIOR510092004?open&of=ENG-KWT
or throught the UN website

sabahf78 said...

Firstly, I think Kuwait is need of a minimum wage law. Have you seen these poor people who clean the streets? How they stand there at traffic lights, pretending that they just arrived to clean that perticular spot. You should notice that they're always at the begining of the traffic lights(red light), starting their slow walk to the end of the que of cars, pretending to clean the street, working every car for money. next time you see this, notice when the lights turn green, look into your rear mirror, you'll see him/her walk back to the begining of the que of cars, getting ready for the next red light. why is this happening? why give money? they have a money paying job, right?
they get paid around kd20-30 monthly! Owners of these companies are very rich, and getting richer because of this slave trade. They're all hypocrites!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is modern day slavory in kuwait.
Secondly, this 'kefeel' thing is no more than a cart blanche for the kefeel to do what he/she pleases with the poor person. Do we need kefeel if we go to the U.K., U.S., or any other country? NO! It's legal slavoury.

Anonymous said...

hi this is Sarah. I forgot my blogger account thingy, so I'm commenting as "anonymous"

Please pardon the following correction: You do need a kefeel if you are applying for a work visa to the US. You do not need one if you're applying for a visitor's visa (which is probably what you were thinking of). If you're applying for a student visa, then technically the university if your kefeel (you have to have forms from them saying that you were accepted to the university, etc). If you're getting a work visa, then your employer is your kefeel and you have to have paperwork from them saying that they have hired you. In America, the kefeel is called a "sponsor."

To be fair, there are plenty of people who abuse the kefeel system here too. All of the horror stories heard about kuwait can be heard here too. There are organization and laws that are supposed to prevent abuse and protect immigrants, but often the immigrants are uneducated and aren't aware of their rights. They are afraid of being deported, so they won't go to the police to get help if they are being abused. So, it really isn't very different from any other country. It doesn't make it right though.

Drunk'n'Gorgeous said...

About not granting the Jordanian guy Kuwaity citizenship, it's like that with all "obnoxious" countries. For example, the Japanese (whom I adore) refuse to acknowledge fourth generation Koreans even though they speak Japanese fluently and have lived there all their lives. The Japanese think that they're better than that. Same thing with Kuwaity people (the hateful phrase - Kaify Kuwaity - comes to mind). Point is, as smart as the Japanese are, even they are obnoxious so waiting for erm... not-as-smart Kuwaitys to be humle and reward other non-kuwaity people's loyalty with kuwaity citizenship is unrealistic. It's sad that there's nothing we can do about it.

Drunk'n'Gorgeous said...

I meant "humble" :P

Lisa/Washington State said...

I feel sorry for them to.
I was depressed because they put a marker on the grave of one of my best friends today.
She died on her 40th birthday. March 14th, 2005.
Her son's father lives in Kuwait. He and my friend divorced in the early 90's so I am praying that maybe he will wonder how his son is and look him up. She took his phone number with her to the grave...
I read about the abuse that made you sad, on my side of the world, it is getting worse, and I just wonder why people have to be so cruel to one another, life is too short.
Meanwhile, I think I am contributing to the negativity on this planet because due to my own grief I have become angry (somewhat) and sad.
This is how I began blog hopping, I like to read people's point of view.
Anyway, please say prayers for the boy who is graduating next week without a mother or a father to hug him and congratulate him.
Thanks for letting me deposit some thoughts on your blog, Ithought the title was appropriate for me!

Judy Abbott said...

only employes?!!!!!! huh they ause their own children
what are you talking about


every single day i get a call for an abused child which we have to go and help


wow

Q said...

Please come back! where have you gone?

Lisa said...

I found my sign in name so thought I would drop back in. I am blog hopping and avoiding my own blog (I started it a few weeks ago when my friend died)it's a gloomy place.

There is some sick pig here in the USA who killed 2 little girls on MOther's day. This was 3 days ago. As I was sitting in a restaraunt silently annoyed with the lack of a simple coffee refill, 2 little girls across the country were being murdered.

They were 7 yrs old, and the man who did it was one of the girl's father! What a creep!.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/10/illinois.girls/

They had just gone out on a bike ride, that's a shame too!
That's what is going on in my neck of the woods. Children are innocents...

Shurouq said...

Kwtia,
Long time no 'read', and I'm starting to worry.

You are missed, dear.

Anonymous said...

i'm impressed;-) i lived in kwt as an "expatriate" and my parents were there since the 1940's - still no citizenship and treated like crap - what else is new? glad to see that u have a heart - it offers relief to know that atleast one of you thinks about human rights.

Anonymous said...

I am Italian architect , and belive me , the State of Kuwait , is better then many others Country : the Police Service and security , the Intelligente Service are very very well efficent .Of course , any others country have same problems + or - ......regarding the Waasta'....anyone can said one Country without ' Waasta'"..but Kuwait need , for there secuirity a good : Labours Sindacate , and real Human Rights .....and better Commercial Law.... I belive and trust that The State of Kuwait is in a good Development ...and soon all this point will be consider ..

Trust and respect the Law ..... to all

Antonio Arch.