Monday, June 19, 2006

A Breath of Fresh Air

Sabria S. Jawhar is new – relatively new – to The Saudi Gazette. She writes a weekly column called, “Out of the Box.” Today she addresses an issue that many of us have addressed – I have, The Religious Policman has, Hypnotic Verses and Silly Bahraini Girl have addressed it, and without a doubt, a slew of others that I just am not quite familiar with yet: Abuse of domestic workers.

If someone has had the courage to take some responsibility for the issue in black and white as direct and succinctly as Sabria has, I’ve not yet seen it. I do believe the column she wrote today will cause just a bit of flack.

Sabria, if everyone out there that employs domestic help shared your philosophy, many of us would no longer have an issue to address with regularity, as abuse of domestic workers would be obsolete! And if everyone out there just shared part of Sabria’s philosophy toward mankind in general, what a wonderful world this would be!

The specific situation, Sabria writes of, involves a man who fills an apartment building’s water tank. The man got sick and was unable to fill the tank one night. The next day, a tenant of the building, upset because there is no water, beats the man beyond recognition. When did any of us – not just those of us with domestic help – stop caring about our fellow human beings so much that instead of saying, “I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well,” we respond to the absence of some deed or promise with anger?

Sabria says,
“. . . few expatriates go home with good memories about their stay in the Kingdom.”
“. . . I felt truly ashamed and I was lost for words. I was speechless and could barely utter a word, other than to say “sorry brother,” for the behavior . . .”
“. . . what made the inherent dignity and humanity so cheap to us, that we thought we could enslave and humiliate them? How could we be so mean and cruel to these people, people who had crossed oceans to serve us and raise our children?”
“. . . give them more human working conditions, where they have a proper day off and come and go freely to see their friends and relatives, and even celebrate holidays like we do. They are human beings, who have feelings . . .”
“Why do we dare to impose our values on others? Why do we always think badly of people, who are simply different from us?”
Yes, why, indeed…
“We need to encourage them to address the authorities and complain when their rights are violated, without the fear of reprisal or losing their jobs.”

Sabria, reading your column was truly a breath of fresh air – long overdue – to anyone gasping for breath in an environment of effluence!

Haya, YOU need to – no, no – you MUST read this!

[I do hope this young lady will not mind my addressing her by her first name – it was done out of admiration and not disrespect – S a b r i a. Why, I could almost be her twin!]

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