Just a follow-on to my previous post about the abuse of foreign workers in Saudi.
As I mentioned, the abuse of migrant workers is not restricted to just Saudi Arabia, but is widespread throughout all of the Gulf countries. I have previously highlighted the cases of an Indian housemaid who was raped by her sponsor, a Bangladeshi man who was tortured by his employer, and of twenty-one Indian workers who were mistreated and withheld their salaries by their employers. All of these incidents took place in Bahrain, and are just a tiny few among the hundreds of cases that go unreported.
Although I don't think it occurs on the same scale as it does across the causeway in Saudi, the abuse of foreign workers in Bahrain is certainly a huge problem that we have to contend with if we ever want to claim any moral authority in the face of others. But I am quite pleased to see that the necessary steps are gradually being taken in Bahrain as the country progresses. Just today the GDN reported that:
Labour issues affecting Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Filipino workers are be to discussed at regular six monthly meetings with Bahraini officials, it was revealed yesterday.
The four countries will set up a joint sub-committee with Labour and Social Affairs Ministry officials to report on the labour situation in their communities.
Labour and Social Affairs Ministry Under-Secretary Shaikh Abdul Rahman bin Abdulla Al Khalifa made the announcement yesterday after a joint meeting with Indian Ambassador Bhaskar Kumar Mitra, Pakistani Ambassador Sabih Uddin Bokhari, Bangladeshi Ambassador Anwarullah Chowdhury and Philippine Consul Jousi Della Russa. They discussed the need to institute legal procedures to safeguard the rights of expatriates.
This is something that I suggested last week in a comment to one of my posts. Great. It seems like this move may be in response to the HRW report about Saudi. Meetings every six months seems hardly enough considering the number of cases we hear about, but it is a positive step that a means of communication has been set up between the expat worker communities and the Ministry of Labour. It is now up to the governments and the embassies of the migrant worker communities to really put the pressure on Bahrain to guarantee their rights.