Today in the GDN (www.gulf-daily-news.com), there's a two-page spread w/ the title "Trapped in the cycle of poverty". There are five good pics showing some labourers in this country, as well as a really good article by Sara Horton.
I see these men every day - seven days a week - slaving away outside on some construction site. Yesterday, me and the hubby went out and they're doing construction on the main road outside our house, and there they were... the Indian labourers working on Friday. I thought these men were supposed to get a day off!??
Well, this article talks about what's happening w/ many of these men/labourers and now I see why they're being worked to death. They come here on visit visas (which isn't a good thing), are told lies by the agents in their home country (and the agents nor sponsors take any responsibility), and then when they arrive at the Bahrain airport, their passports are taken away from them by their sponsors. Many of these men are very poor, have sold everything to come here thinking they'll make lots of money to send to their families back home.... and then all is lost.
Their sponsors wind up keeping them for a few months (4 or 5) and then let them go. But.. they don't get their passorts back, nor do they have CPRs - which is mandatory in this country and w/out them, you can't do much of anything but run and hide.
Well, they wind up going from job to job - working on the blackmarket - just trying to make ends meet. Many sleep w/ other friends in overcramped living spaces (because there is no staying at the sponsor's home) w/ sometimes as many as 20 or more ppl living in this very small space. They are afraid to go to the authorities for fear of what they'll encounter and many find out that they are here illegally and are mounting up large fees because they've overstayed their visit visas.
** Visit visas are usually good for one month**
So... think about it. These men are here for three years sometimes before they ever take that first step in going to the authorities in order to try to get back home. They have no money because most of them work only for a few months here and there at a job before they have to find another (because they're here illegally and ppl are becoming more afraid to hire these ppl) and most of these men are working these jobs w/out BEING PAID! The employers take total advantage of them because they know their plight and know that nothing will be done if they don't pay, so they don't. Even if the guy wants to go home, NO ONE helps. They have no one that they can rely upon. I can't imagine.
When I first came to Bahrain, I couldn't find work. The first question I was asked when I called a place was "how old are you". That's illegal in the States... and I was shocked for being asked such. But... I encountered this Filipina woman who told me that she knew of this man who could get me a free visa. I met this man. He's an Indian guy. Now... guess how much he wanted to charge me for the "free visa"??? BD800!!!! yep.... I didn't take it, thank God but I seriously considered it. I couldn't find a job and my visit visa was about to expire. I was so afraid of having to pay huge fines if I didn't find work and get sponsored.
I'm so glad that this didn't happen. Things came together, me and hubby got married, and then I secured a job. And now, I'm under my husband's sponsorship. It's all crazy to me, this sponsorship thing, but... what to do.
Anyway... my point is this... I wonder how much this Indian man that I met charges Indian labourers for "free visas". He was gonna charge me BD800 for it, so when he comes across someone in dire straights that needs it badly, I could assume or guess that the price would go up significantly. Once again, the Indians are trapped. They are basically slaves to these ppl... owing so much money that the thought of ever getting free is nothing but a dream.
I can not write anything here that can express the pain in my heart for these people. I think that the sponsors should be taught serious lessons... how, I don't know. I think these rogue agents in India and other places should be shut down, but can it be done permanently? There's one Indian man whose been bringing in tons of Indians on visit visas (300 so far when they last counted) but NO ONE will do anything to him! hmmmm... I wonder who he works for! Good question.
I'll tell ya a secret though... I was talking to an agent here in Bahrain just a few days back and he said that he's gonna start recruiting from Afghanistan! hmmm... no messes w/ this country, the ppl are poor and desperately want out of there... no headaches w/ embassies here in Bahrain, no set salary requirements... hmmm... I guess it beats having to pay a Filipina housemaid BD75 a month and then having to give the Indians a good salary, treat all of them decent... the list just goes on and on.
And... last, but surely not least, I saw an article a few days back in the GDN and ppl are petioning the Philippine Embassy to reduce the rates for housemaids because the average Bahraini can't afford it. For God's sake people... if you can't afford a housemaid, then do the work yourself! Why does everyone in this country feel as though they deserve a housemaid???? Who died and made all of these ppl kings?