Modern day slavery – Asian workers suffer in Arab countries

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 SHAFAQNA – There has been a debate lately in Pakistan, and other Asian countries, as to their workers’ status in the rich Persian Gulf Monarchies – the idea being that workers are in fact part of a grand slavery scheme.

Wake up Pakistan on Facebook has campaigned to raise awareness to this modern day issue – which issue has seldom been reported by the press, let alone debated on political platforms.

Saudi Arabia,among other Arab countries, is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and many other countries voluntarily travel to Saudi Arabia as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, including restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and non-payment of wages. Women, primarily from Asian and African countries are also believed to have been trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation; others were reportedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers.

Some Saudi men have also used legally contracted “temporary marriages” in countries such as Mauritania, Yemen, and Indonesia as a means by which to sexually exploit migrant workers. Females as young as seven years old are led to believe they are being wed in earnest, but upon arrival in Saudi Arabia subsequently become their husbands’ sexual slaves, are forced into domestic labour and, in some cases, prostitution.   – U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  [full country report]

Back in 2013 A leading Saudi government Wahhabi cleric and author of the country’s religious curriculum said he believes Islam advocates slavery.  “Slavery is a part of Islam,” says Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, according to the independent Saudi Information Agency, or SIA.  In a lecture recorded on tape by SIA, the sheik said, “Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”  His religious books are used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the country and abroad, including the United States.

Needless to say that Islam of course absolutely and categorically rejects slavery.

Did we not show him the two paths? He should choose the difficult path. Which one is the difficult path? The freeing of slaves. Feeding, during the time of hardship… [Quran 90:10-14]

And,

Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveller, the beggars, and to free the slaves… [Quran 2:177]

See video here

This is the fate of so many Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and so many more who go to work in the UAE hoping to build a better life for their families only to be trapped in modern day slavery.

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