I admit it, I have a thing for the Gulf. I like the music; the drums and the monotone singing, the tales of pearlfishing, the culture and the desert. I sincerely appreciated living in the Gulf, being one of few. But the one thing that makes me hesitate to ever go back to live there is the modern day slavery, now spreading over the Middle East, that now is so plain that most people have grown numb to it.
I’ve heard the arguments before, I’ll give them to you before you give them to me: the guestworkers would have made much less in their own countries, now they can put their own children in school. You have to take their passport away from them, otherwise they will run away before the contract is over. They’re poor people that don’t know anything – therefore you have to lock them in overnight, they have to know their place. The horrifying stories I have heard reminds me of tales from American slavery – anonymous people that looses their identity and name.
I’ve heard the other side too, from people who want to be good: we pay her flight ticket to go visit her family, we give her one day off when she’s free, then she can go whereever she likes, our maids can eat as much as they want. As if giving someone what is supposedly their human right is “being good”.
If you’re Asian or African in the Middle East, you might have nails pushed into your body, you might be abused publicly with noone intervening but filming the abuse instead, you might be killed and the killing will be called an “accident“. Yes, I am giving you some of the worst examples, but you know what? It’s when we start having maids that calls us “sir” and “ma’am”, that the degrading and depersonalisation process starts. And this is the reason it’s so hard for me to see myself go back. I don’t want to grow as numb as many already did.