Muhammad Al-Naji, from King Khaled University, "has recommended a new law enforcing the protection of childhood in the Kingdom in accordance with the regulations of the International Labor Organization of the United Nations." This, in a country that cannot agree on what age should be set that allows a little girl - a CHILD - to get married, now someone wants to set a minimum wage for children to work? Let us know how that is going to work out.
The example shown in the article has to do more with "child begging" than "child labor," in my opinion. A reporter tells of a five-year-old Afghani child who followed him "begging him to buy some gum." You can see this first-hand at any major traffic light downtown - little children running to your car, hand held out begging - occasionally they have gum that they will sell. No. I don't buy the gum. And no, I don't give out money either. At the parking lots of grocery stores the begging is much more aggressive and the mother's are the ones racing to the cars with their hands held out. Regularly we read reports that the authorities are going to crack down on this begging behavior, but I have yet to see that happen. How then, are they going to crack down on the children who are doing it for work?
So this reporter has this conversation with the five-year-old who is "working" [selling gum - basically, begging]:
Child says, "I have a young brother."
Reporter asks, "Where is he... Is he selling her with you?"
Child responds, "He is in Afghanistan, with my father."
Reporter asks, "Where is your mother?"
Child says, "She is in Makkah, please, buy this from me, please!"
Well, sure. There has to be some "human interest" in the story or no one would bother reading it. I don't buy it. Dad is in Afghanistan with a younger brother and the mother is here in Saudi Arabia? Doing what, exactly? Everyone knows that women in Middle Eastern countries are not allowed to travel alone! Color me skeptical. And, if the mother is actually here, then she came as a maid or something and the poor child is the product of his Mom having relations with someone who she is not married to. I guess there is always the chance that the woman could have come here as a maid and been only just pregnant enough so that no one noticed, but you can bet that as soon as the family she was working for figured it out that she was out of that house so fast... Which would make her being here illegal, at this point.
"Despite the attempts made by the reporter to find out about his family background, the boy's greater concern was to get rid of the gum box between his two little hands before the end of the day." Well, of course it was. The child was brought here - by someone [read between the lines] - to beg and make money. Isn't that what the problem here really is? How many times have we read about all the children that have been caught being "smuggled" in through the Yemen border to beg. Especially during holiday times, like Ramadan and now, Eid. If there are Saudi children out there working, they are few and far between.
"The reporter watched from a distance to see who would eventually come to collect the child. At 11 P.M., after all the shops had closed, an old man with a white beard dressed in Afghani-type clothes appeared and called to the boy. Sajid immediately went to the man and handed over the money... The old man took Sajid to a car filled with other children and drove away." There you go. Someone brought a bunch of children, illegally, into the Sandbox and is making them beg. Whoever that someone is, you can bet that whatever the childrens' earning are for the day that he has to share that money with someone else further up the food chain or he wouldn't be allowed to stay and get away with the scam that happens, here, far too frequently.
Apparently child labor violations, "including forced child labor, are rarely reported, investigated, or prosecuted in major urban areas... investigations are nonexistent in more remote regions." Why? Why is that? Is it because, as I have suggested, that others are making money off these little beggars, too? Just a guess on my part. But, for all its differences, Saudi Arabia is no different than any other country in one regard. It is all about money. Whoever is paying gets to play. Same as Chicago style politics. Why try to make it be something it isn't? "It has become one of the most distressing sights throughout the Kingdom to see children of families out of school working at car workshops, traffic lights and outside malls." Really? I don't think so. You get hardened to it after a while. I might have thought it was distressing when I first got here, but not any more. And if someone wanted to stop it they could. You can see little children running out to vehicles at the traffic lights with Traffic Police RIGHT THERE AT THE SAME LIGHT and they don't seem to be bothered by it - the begging children - either.
"Family disintegration, low cultural awareness, ignorance... and trafficking of children from neighboring countries, especially Yemen, are the factors contributing to this problem," says a Saudi social researcher, Saud Al-Shehri. Did I not say the same thing about children being brought in illegally from Yemen? Couldn't even get half-way through the article without finding out that that is more than mere speculation on my part, and is a fact. As far as "family disintegration" goes, I say that when a man is allowed to have four wives and four different families that that
Supposedly a number of these women, some "88 percent" are mothers that "are illiterate and only nine per cent of them hold even an elementary school certificate." They knew how to do one thing, though, didn't they?! Procreate. There are a lot of single mothers in the States that have pulled themselves up and provided for their children without the benefit of college educations! Just because someone is illiterate doesn't give them the "right" to send their children to go out and beg. How many children do you have to have before you figure out what "caused" you to have them in the first place? "Poverty forces these children to resort to begging and finding street jobs to make a living for themselves and their family members." I disagree. If you have a child then it is YOUR job to provide for your children, not the other way around - that the children should have to provide for you. When did it become acceptable for the children to have to work and not the parents? You cannot imagine how many children I see running to our truck at the traffic lights where a figure dressed in head-to-toe black stands back on the sidewalk watching. Children, no doubt, command more empathy than a full-grown woman [or man - who knows whether it is a man or woman underneath all that fabric?!!] insofar as begging goes. That is why children are the ones who do this - because the adults are not as prosperous. I feel a whole lot more sorry for a child in this predicament than I do for an adult. [No matter. No one gets money from me that way. And we "give" plenty to charity. You are a serviceman and in need? I'm ready with a donation. You need assistance getting your pet some surgery and you work as hard as you can to make ends meet? Let me get my checkbook. You want me to give you what I've worked for because YOU don't want to work? Bugger off.]
"According to UNICEF [a thoroughly over-rated "charity" that takes far too much money administratively and leave little for the actual recipients], an estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labor - one in six children in the world." I'm calling bull$hit on that. One in six? Perhaps in certain countries - China, North Korea... But not all over the world.
Another you man who "has worked as a laborer in Jeddah since he was 10 years old" did not want to speak to a reporter. Instead, "his employer, Abu Yousef [son of Yousef - not the man's real name], encouraged him to do so." He too had a tale of woe, being "forced to work so that he can pay for school and help provide for his family." I can see the being responsible for paying for schooling - and it truly is unfortunate that "public" schools are not the norm world-wide, but again, WHY is it a child's responsibility to have to provide for the family. Did the reporter - whoever it was - even ask ONE child what the parents - or parent - did to provide for the family?!! Abu Yousef, who by the way is a Palestinian mechanic, no doubt here on a work visa, said that his protege "is attending French school in the morning and comes to the shop at five in the evening. He is a professional mechanic now and can fix any car." What nationality is this young man, who is now 19? African. Another child smuggled in when he was a small kid, maybe? Abu Yousef has another child now working for him - a 10-year-old boy - who has been "working for him for three years." What is it with all of these children from other countries? Does anyone think for a single solitary second that the authorities here are going to care about children that have been imported? And, as I stated above, someone wants to set a law as to a minimum age? Sure.
There is much, much more. I could drone on and on and on. But frankly, my "I don't care" is in full gear today and I really, really don't care, today... Call me cold-hearted. I just don't see that it is my responsibility to take care of everyone else. I don't want to do it here, and I will absolutely stead-fastedly refuse to do so in the States. We will go somewhere else. Plenty of other countries that would be happy to have the dollars that DH and I have. There are gated communities in Mexico where we could live like gazillionaires. Cyprus. Brazil. There are always going to be child beggars because there are always going to be ADULTS / PARENTS who refuse to take responsibility for their own children. I will just refuse to support those people. DH and I have worked far too hard for what we have. In order to get it, it is going to have to be pried from our cold... hands.
In lighter news... A job that you should not have is breaking spells. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe there really is something to all of this black-hocus-pocus-bullarky. Not something I believe in, but that isn't to say that I totally disregard it. I know it is big in some parts of the South in the United States. I know that there are other countries where it is part of the culture. I attribute it all to being uneducated and - ooh - how to say this delicately - third world. [So much for being delicate.] But then, part of whether or not you fall for it also has to do with frame of mind. I can sometimes believe you can will yourself not to feel good and vice versa to will yourself to feel better. "I do not have a cold. It is all in my head." Umm, that fever, the runny nose, the sore throat, and that cough? Not so "made-up" after all... Whatever. Do I believe some magic spell can be cast upon me and that someone with special powers can undo that? No. I do not. Many, here in the Sandbox, do believe in all of that though, and if you get caught practicing your special gift? Depending on your nationality you will be punished - some more severely than others. [See my archives for much more harsh punishments.] If you are a Saudi - shocker - the nationality IS published - then you can be punished and sentenced to two years in jail and 500 lashes for being a magician. Good grief. Wonder what kind of sentences David Copperfield or Kris Angel would receive here.