Bahrain’s immigrant workers in trouble


This is a video by Yousif Hassan and his friends on migrant workers in Bahrain.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Watch: A Bahraini tries living a day in the life of a migrant worker

By Adam Taylor

February 25 at 12:05 PM

More than half of the 1.4 million people living in Bahrain are thought to be migrant workers, journeying from South Asia and elsewhere to the Persian Gulf state because of economic factors. Many end up in low-paid, menial work once they are there, living a very different life compared with the Bahrainis around them.

The Washington Post should rather say: some of the Bahrainis.

Last week, a young Bahraini named Yousif Hassan decided to show the gulf between his life and that of migrant workers, by living a “day in the life” of a low-paid convenience store worker. With the help of some friends, he filmed his day.

In his new job, Hassan, an 18-year-old media student, has to run back and forth to fetch items from a convenience store for largely Bahraini clients as they sit in their cars. He notes that when they see an Arab come out to take their order, rather than a South Asian, they suddenly become more polite. Some even ask: “Are you seriously working here?” Some wouldn’t even allow him to take their orders.

Hassan also found the experience extremely frustrating, even as a Bahraini. He wondered how tough it must be for a migrant worker who doesn’t really speak the language, is away from his family and works grueling 16-hour days. “We are all human beings that have the right to be respected regardless of our work, nationality and our social state,” Hassan says in a voiceover.

The end result is a video with almost half a million views on YouTube that has received many positive and supportive comments from Bahraini viewers and others.  “Thank you my brother for this great video,” one YouTube comment reads. “Equality and a lack of arrogance are the most important values of Islam.”

The plight of migrant workers in Bahrain sometimes doesn’t receive quite the attention as those in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar, but similar problems exist. Hassan’s video is a lighthearted but important look at the social interactions between Arabs and migrant workers, but sometimes the reality is even worse: A 2012 Human Rights Watch report found that hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Bahrain were exploited and abused in the country, despite government reforms. A year later, the U.S. State department noted that a number of suicides among migrant workers in the country were “allegedly due at least in part to conditions of forced labor and debt bondage, including the withholding of wages and passport confiscation.”

Bahrain: female detainee put incommunicado. February 26, 2015. Jalila Sayed Ameen, 30, has not been allowed access to family and lawyer since her arrest on 10th February 2015. Family members appealed to the Ombudsman Office then the Central Investigations Department (CID) but were told their request to see Jalila cannot be received because the system is down: here.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab summoned by police and fears new arrest. The prominent human rights activist believes he will be handed down a new charge and could be jailed for years. By Milana Knezevic / 26 February, 2015: here.

11 thoughts on “Bahrain’s immigrant workers in trouble

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