Sunday, 28 November 2010

Why does the West ignore Arab slavery?

This may or may not come as a surprise but slavery, in various pernicious forms, is alive and well in many Middle Eastern countries. The reasons behind its popularity are not hard to find. Firstly, the use of slaves is almost a part of Arab culture, dating back several centuries; the Arabs, of course, were the main traders in African slaves to the West Indies and the USA.

Shackles these days are economic based rather than iron
Secondly, there is unparalleled wealth in most of the Middle East and this, coupled with yet another cultural attitude of not working oneself if you can pay someone else to do it makes for a perfect backcloth to the trafficking of slaves.
Where do they come from? Well, it varies somewhat from country to country. Saudi tends to prefer Phillipino 'workers' for its hotel and tourist industry while the  manual jobs go to Bangladeshis and Indians from the poorer states such as Goa and Kerala as well as Pakistanis. Most taxi drivers and menial task workers come from these countries.
In the United Arab Emirates there are less Phillipinos and more Indians, Pakistanis and Afghanis.
But, you will not see a sign of a shackle or bullwhip; it is a little more subtle than that.
The Arab nationals who 'employ' these unfortunates do so on a bond basis. That is, slaves workers are recruited in their home country by agents and their air fares are paid. They pass immediately to an employer in, say, Kuwait, where they surrender their passport. There lies the rub. They are now hostages to fortune. In the main they are married men who will now live in communes often 14 or 15 to a bedroom. Their meagre salaries are just enough for them to live on with a little left over to enable them to send subsistence cash back home. At the end of their 3 or 5 year bondage they may return home but all too often they are not able to afford to do so or their employer reneges on the deal and refuses to release their passport. Another ploy is for the employer to release them but to retain a cash amount (owed wages) which is only payable when they return.
I have met men who have not seen their families for 10 years or more and who have no potential for being able to afford retirement back home.
Even more sinister is the trade in young teenage girls from deprived parts of India and the Phillipines (these only come, I believe, from non Muslim regions). I have seen them, flown in by the hundred and lined up at Riyadh airport awaiting collection.Their fate is to work as domestic servants, Heaven help them! The term domestic servant may cover a multitude of sins, literally.
Of course, Kerala, Goa and the Phillipines are intensely Catholic parts of the world but there is no freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia and very limited access to churches in Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and other parts.
The long term fate of these girls is, I suspect, largely unknown, and working conditions terrible. I  admit that I have no hard evidence regarding their treatment as domestics other than supposition based on Arab behaviour in other social areas that I have witnessed and hearsay from expats living in the Middle East.
It is a sad fact that Britain and the US subscribe so unquestioningly to the economies of these countries, due almost entirely to the dependence on trade of which, arms and weaponry is no small part.
The Phillipino contingent tend to me better organised and often have cooperatives (of a sort) that help to monitor conditions and, ostensibly, speak out against injustices.
They meet in small groups in hotel rooms on Sundays in Saudi where they go through the Mass, redolent of recusant times when a 'dry' Mass was all that was all too often available. If caught they risk deportation or worse, a public flogging.
I know of no Western organisation other than the Anti-Slavery Society  that acts on behalf of these people, spare a prayer for them during Advent and for their employer/owners that they may become enlightened and give to these slaves the civil and religious liberties that they are entitled to.


  1. Me solidarizo contigo y rezaré también por esta lacra que esclaviza a la sociedad.

    Pero también en occidente ocurre lo mismo, aunque de diferente forma. La sociedad de consumo y bienestar destruye al hombre y lo esclaviza, y lo explota.

    Los medios de comunicación los manipula y son ovejas desprotegida y alimentadas para sus propios intereses.

    El hombre somete al hombre porque la fuerza del pecado es la ley. Sólo el amor nos hace libre.

    Un fuerte abrazo en XTO.JESÚS.

  2. Gracias Salvador. Entiendo. Dios le bendice.

  3. Awesome post is very nice and interesting.Will you post in future regarding Church Mass Times?

  4. I read, some years ago, that in Sudan there was rides to take slaves. When asked who were these man, people would answer " they are whites" - arabs.
    I remember seeing also in television that there was an organization that bought slaves to give them freedom but sometimes they were enslaved again in new rides. That was some years ago, don't know how things are now.

  5. Catholic Church Mass Times - I will endeavour.

    God bless.