No amount of money is worth it

November 19th, 2010 § 0

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Kompas ran a heartbreaking story today about the plight of Indonesian women migrant workers in Arab Gulf states. The backdrop of this story is a recent case of torture of an Indonesian maid by her employer in Saudi Arabia, and another more recent case where another maid was not only tortured but also had her throat slit and her dead body dumped in the garbage.

The journalist who wrote the story met a group of about forty of them at Dubai international airport as they were about to board a flight back home.

Wati, Ngatmi, dan puluhan perempuan di ruang tunggu itu pantas merasa lega. Mereka telah bekerja sebagai PRT rata-rata tiga bulan sampai dua tahun lebih di Dubai, Arab Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon, dan beberapa negara lain di sekitarnya. Rasa kangen terhadap kampung halaman sudah membuncah.

(Transl.) Wati, Ngatmi and tens of the women waiting in the departure terminal rightly feel glad. They have have been working as maids anywhere from three months to more than two years in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and several other countries in the area. They deeply miss their homes.

And in my opinion they should just go home never to return. This is why:

”Saya sudah ganti enam kali majikan selama 2,5 tahun di Kuwait. Kadang karena tidak kerasan, terus minta ganti majikan. Penyebab tidak kerasan terbanyak ya soal kekerasan dari majikan,” kata Sa’diyah (38), warga Cimahi.

Ketika pembicaraan merembet ke masalah kekerasan, wajah-wajah para penyumbang devisa bagi Indonesia itu pun langsung mendung. Dari sekitar 40 tenaga kerja perempuan yang Kamis itu akan menuju Jakarta, hampir semuanya pernah merasakan kekerasan selama bekerja.

(Transl.) “I have switched employers six times during my 2.5 years in Kuwait. Sometimes it was because I did not feel comfortable with my employer. Why uncomfortable? Most of the time the reason was the violence of my employer,” said Sa’diyah (38) of Cimahi.

When the conversation switched to the topic of violence, the faces of these contributors to Indonesia’s foreign reserve turned dark. Of about forty women migrant workers who were leaving for Jakarta that Thursday, nearly all of them had been subjected to violence in their job. (emphasis mine)

I never realized that the violence problem was so widespread in these countries. I remembered after reading the piece that our new maid had also worked in one of the Arab countries before coming to work for us. I asked her about the violence, and she confirmed that the mother of her employer had once banged her head on the wall for some unclear mistake.

I’m not sure what this indicates. Is it possible for people in these different countries to have some overwhelming propensity for violence? I mean you can’t even consider this a crime. It’s pathological.

Here’s one worthy cause to pursue: STOP SENDING OUR WOMEN TO BECOME DOMESTIC WORKERS IN ARAB COUNTRIES. Any amount of riyal or dirham is just not worth it.

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