Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Indian nurses forced to work as slaves in Saudi Arabia

The pattern of Indian women being horribly mistreated and horrifyingly exploited in primitive and uncivilized Saudi Arabia seems never-ending.

Most people don't know much about Saudi Arabia. It is a land of Bedouins who never made any cultural or scientific achievements: like discovering the idea of building a house, write a book, poetry, compose music, understand the theories of economics, politics, mathematics, science or technology, how to treat people of other religions with decency and respect, or how to treat women in a civilized manner. They are a primitive and uncivilized race that suddenly found out that it was sitting on the world's largest deposits of oil in the 1950's. And they got very very rich, without ever having worked hard for a day in their lives, unlike people from the other Great Civilizations of the world like the Europeans, Persians, Chinese, and Indians, who all made great progress in architecture, music, literature, poetry, science, technology, politics, economics, religion, law, etc, and whose people have a long history of hard work, and whose cultures have a long-held and deeply-ingrained respect for knowledge, hard work, and education.

Not a single Saudi does any useful work. They all get oil money from the Saudi Government. So they sit in their harems and try out newer and newer ideas of mistreating women and decadent twisted sexual "adventures". The idle mind is the Devil's workshop.

All their work, from low-tech housemaids' work to the high-tech engineering, is done by people from other countries, mostly from India. Paid for with oil money.

The Saudis, like other oil-rich Bedouin countries in the Middle East, are still in the medieval slave-trading mentality of the 14th Century. Poor hard-working people from India who are attracted by promises of high salaries are the easiest to victimize.

The Times of India reports:

Indian nurses forced to continue working
Nilanjana Bhaduri Jha

NEW DELHI: Slaves. Archaic and other-worldly as the word sounds, it best describes the current state of a number of Indian nurses working in Saudi Arabia, struggling to return to India but being held back against their wishes.

Simply put, the women want to come back home but are not being allowed to. The Gulf dream in their eyes, these nurses went on a three-year work contract with the Saudi Ministry of Health.

The contracts expired in December 2006, but they are now being forced to continue working despite the fact that they have pleaded that they do not want to renew their employment.

The nurses had been placed in hospitals run by the Saudi Ministry of Health in Rumah, Tumair, Sajer and Al Nafy under the sponsorship of Nukhba House Medical Services Company, a Riyadh-based firm.

The grounds for holding them back: That the company has a contract with the Saudi Ministry of Health. The project at the hospitals has been extended and so has been the company’s contract with the ministry.

The sponsor is now shrugging off responsibility, conveying that the Saudi “health ministry has insisted that the same work force should continue till finalisation of the project,” the Indian Embassy has said in a status report to the Indian government.

As of now there is no word on the legality of the nurses’ stay in Saudi Arabia post-December. The Indian government fears that the nurses, already much exploited during the period of their contract, will be even more vulnerable to abuse now with their contracts lapsed.

The last three years have been an agonising experience for them. They were not allowed to come back home on vacation in all this time, the company defaulted on salaries on several occasions and now this.

The Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has repeatedly taken the matter up with the government there. Among other measures, through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then through a plaintive letter written by the Indian Ambassador M O H Farook to the Saudi Minister of Labour and the Governor of Riyadh seeking their personal intervention in the case.

In his letter, the Ambassador has drawn the attention of the Saudi authorities to the exploitation of the nurses. He has exhorted the Saudis to resolve the issue expeditiously, invoking the principles of natural justice, pleading that it is inhuman to compel female employees to work against their wishes, even after the expiry of their contracts, and that the need to rejoin their families in their native places is even more crucial in the case of female workers.

At the recently-concluded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, delegates from the Gulf complained of unhealthy working conditions, poor pay, stringent labour laws, language problems et al, making a special mention of Saudi Arabia.

Indian workers there lived in “labour-camp-like environments” and often had to face hostile employers or sponsors, who held up their passports, Balachandran Nair, General Convener, Non-Resident Keralites Welfare Association in Saudi Arabia told

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, who is looking into the matter, says, “These nurses and other workers go through agents or touts, who send them to the sponsors. Then they get exploited,” adding that redressal of the problems faced abroad by Indian workers is a priority with his ministry.

The minister signed an agreement last month with the UAE labour ministry to ensure a better deal for Indian workers there. The agreement, which he hopes to sign with all other Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, envisages ensuring that all contracts are implemented in toto, without reduction in wages or living conditions deteriorating. It also states that the workers will not be forced to sign any further agreements on the terms and conditions of their employment once they are in that country.



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