Islamic law and slavery

Being Black in the Muslim World: “People Will Call Me a Dirty Black Man or Slave”

African immigration is quite controversial. Not so much in Europe, as in the Middle East, where slavery still exists and racism remains part of the culture. It’s a topic that most Western liberals have no real interest in discussing because it cuts against their preconceptions and their ideological posturing. But it’s quite real.

Morroco’s Maroc Hebdo magazine is running a cover story about the “Black Peril” and French media outlets have stories on what life is like for Africans in the parts of Africa controlled by Arab Muslims. And it’s not a pretty picture.

“Often, when I’m just walking down the street, people will call me a “dirty black man” or call me a slave. Young Moroccans have physically assaulted me on several occasions, for no reason, and passers-by who saw this didn’t lift a finger to help me. All my friends are black and they have all had similar experiences. Even the girls get insulted in the street. To avoid getting hurt, I now try to ignore the insults. But if someone starts to hit me, what can I do? I have to defend myself…”
Maroc Hebdo had a cover story entitled “the Black Peril,” accusing sub-Saharan Africans of living off begging, drug trafficking and prostitution. The cover featured a close up shot of a black man’s face.

Morocco is the African gateway to Europe, giving it a role similar to Mexico, but without the financial incentives that Mexico has to encourage illegal immigration. And as African migrants stream into Morocco, we are reminded once again that the West is far less racist than the east.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.

 

 

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Muslim insurgents destroy Timbuktu treasures from Mansa Musa I – the richest African slave trader in history

Where does Mali’s treasures originate from? The wealthiest man in the world by today’s measure was the African King Mansa Musa I.  And how did he obtain his wealth? Like the rest of the African and Muslim world the majority of his wealth came from booty and slavery, the export and use of slaves both white and black.

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The desecration of Timbuktu: Fleeing Islamist destroy priceless treasures before French forces closed in

  • Timbuktu mayor: Ancient books of culture, geography, science all torched
  • Ahmed Baba Institute is the £16m home to 20,000 scholarly manuscripts
  • Mayor Ousmane Halle: ‘It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people’
  • Cameron tells Hollande that Britain is ‘keen’ to help outs militants from Mali
  • Malian and French troops enter city ‘without a shot fired’ as rebels flee

By Matt Blake

PUBLISHED: 13:06, 28 January 2013 | 

Islamist extremists have set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts as they fled French and Malian forces closing in on Timbuktu.

Without firing a shot, 1,000 French soldiers backed by 200 Malian troops descended on the ancient desert trading post, as they tried to cut off the escape of al Qaeda-linked fighters.

But before they could be rounded up, the ragtag rebels scattered into the desert, torching homes, mosques and libraries, including the city’s £16-million Ahmed Baba Institute, home to some 20,000 ancient documents on culture, science and geography, as they left.

It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron assured French president Francois Hollande that Britain is ‘keen’ to help Paris with its military operation to oust the marauding militants.

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Battle ready: Malian soldiers arrive at Gao airport, north of Mali as they joined French forces over the weekend in a push toward the fabled desert town of TimbuktuBattle ready: Malian soldiers arrive at Gao airport, north of Mali as they joined French forces over the weekend in a push toward the fabled desert town of Timbuktu

Desecrated: But as the soldiers reached Timbuktu to oust the Islamist extremists, the rebels destroyed many priceless ancient books on culture, science and geography, the town's mayor Ousmane Halle saidDesecrated: But as the soldiers reached Timbuktu to oust the Islamist extremists, the rebels destroyed many priceless ancient books on culture, science and geography, the town’s mayor Ousmane Halle said

Fight back: The Timbuktu operation comes a day after the French announced they had seized the airport and a key bridge in a city east of Timbuktu, Gao, one of the other northern provincial capitals that had been under the grip of radical IslamistsFight back: The Timbuktu operation comes a day after the French announced they had seized the airport and a key bridge in a city east of Timbuktu, Gao, one of the other northern provincial capitals that had been under the grip of radical Islamists.

Build by the South African government in 2009, the Ahmed Baba Institute was named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and holds thousands of priceless manuscripts in its climate-controlled, underground vaults.

Speaking by phone, city mayor Ousmane Halle said: ‘They torched all the important ancient manuscripts. The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people.’

Tough job: But despite facing little of no resistance so far, French and Malian troops face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques, monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fightersTough job: But despite facing little of no resistance so far, French and Malian troops face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques, monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fighters.

Erasing history: Ancient manuscripts displayed at the library in the city of Timbuktu. Many such priceless manuscripts are feared burned by the fleeing Islamist fightersErasing history: Ancient manuscripts displayed at the library in the city of Timbuktu. Many such priceless manuscripts are feared burned by the fleeing Islamist fighters.

Inside one of Timbuktu's famous libraries: They contain thousands of priceless manuscripts recording genealogies and scientific theories, as well as intellectual arguments between scholars, teachers and commentatorsInside one of Timbuktu’s famous libraries: They contain thousands of priceless manuscripts recording genealogies and scientific theories, as well as intellectual arguments between scholars, teachers and commentators.

‘It’s truly alarming that this has happened,’ he added. Mr Halle had not details of whether the rebels were still in the town, nor was he able to immediately say how much the concrete building had been damaged. He added the rebels also torched his office and the home of a member of parliament.

Ground forces backed by French paratroopers and helicopters took control of Timbuktu’s airport and roads leading to the desert town in an overnight operation.

DESTROYED: THE £16M AHMED BABA INSTITUTE’S TROVE OF HISTORY, SCIENCE AND CULTURE

The Ahmed Baba Institute is one of several libraries and collections in the city containing fragile ancient documents dating back to the 13th century.

It is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and houses more than 20,000 scholarly manuscripts.

The institute moved to a new, state-of-the-art home in the centre of Timbuktu in 2009, built by the South African government at a cost of £16.5 million.

Its underground, climate-controlled storage rooms were home to some 30,000 priceless manuscripts documenting centuries of African culture, science, geography and more.

Most of the manuscripts are in Arabic script, but contain many local languages, and provide unique insights into Timbuktu’s emergence as a trading post, and by the 1500s as a famous university town, full of students and scribes.

But despite facing little of no resistance so far, they face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fighters.

‘We have to be extremely careful. But in general terms, the necessary elements are in place to take control,’ French army spokesman Lieutenant Thierry Burkhard said in Paris.

Timbuktu member of parliament El Hadj Baba Haïdara told Reuters in Bamako the Islamist rebels had abandoned the city.

‘They all fled. Before their departure they destroyed some buildings, including private homes,’ he said.

The move marked the latest inroad by the two-week-old French mission to oust radical Islamists from the northern half of Mali, which they seized more than nine months ago.

French Col. Thierry Burkhard, the chief military spokesman in Paris, said on Monday that the town’s airport was taken without a shot fired.

‘There was an operation on Timbuktu last night that allowed us to control access to the town,’ he said. ‘It’s up to Malian forces to retake the town.’

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron and Mr Hollande used a phone call last night to discuss the situation in the north African state.

The RAF has already provided two heavy-lift C17 transport planes and a Sentinel surveillance aircraft to assist France’s operation, and National Security Adviser Sir Kim Darroch was today in Paris to discuss what further help may be offered.

Mr Cameron has said the UK is ready to offer logistical, intelligence and surveillance help to France, as well as troops for a proposed EU mission to train the Malian army – although he has ruled out a combat role for British personnel.

It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron assured French president Francois Hollande that Britain is 'keen' to help Paris with its military operation to oust the marauding militants.

It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron assured French president Francois Hollande that Britain is 'keen' to help Paris with its military operation to oust the marauding militants.

The politicians: It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron, left, assured French president Francois Hollande, right, that Britain is ‘keen’ to help Paris with its military operation to oust the marauding militants

Extremist fighters: Fighters of the Ansar Dine Islamist group standing guard at Kidal airport, northern Mali. French air strikes destroyed the home of the leader of an Al-Qaeda-linked group in northern Mali as French-led forces advanced yesterdayExtremist fighters: Fighters of the Ansar Dine Islamist group standing guard at Kidal airport, northern Mali. French air strikes destroyed the home of the leader of an Al-Qaeda-linked group in northern Mali as French-led forces advanced yesterday.

Outlining last night’s phone call, the PM’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘The French president gave an update on the progress that French and Malian forces have been making and also thanked the Prime Minister for the UK transport assistance.

SALT, IVORY, GOLD AND SLAVES: HOW TIMBUKTU BECAME KNOWN AS THE ‘EL DORADO OF AFRICA’

During its Golden Age, Timbuktu was a haven of wealth, business and culture to which travelers from all corners of the world would travel to trade their wares.

Founded by nomads in the twelfth century, it was named the City of 333 Saints and soon became a centre for spreading Islamic culture throughout Africa.

As more people settled, it became one of the world’s busiest trading posts specialising in salt, gold, ivory and slaves.

It was enveloped by the Mali Empire early in the 14th century, ruled by the fearsome warlord Mansa Musa I.

With Mansa its ruler and Timbuktu at its heart, Mali became the richest empire in the world, known as The African El Dorado and a city made of gold.

Mansa’s personal net worth was last year estimated to be $400million at the time of his death in 1331, making him the richest person in the history of mankind.

As the centuries drew on, Timbuktu became a center of Islamic study and the home of Sankore Madrasah university and extensive libraries.

They contain thousands of priceless manuscripts recording genealogies and scientific theories, as well as intellectual arguments between scholars, teachers and commentators.

The teachings of Islam were also set out in several hundred thousand manuscripts held in the city.

Twinned with the small market town of Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales, Timbuktu was a popular tourist destination, but this industry died when the Islamist rebels seized control.

In November 2011 four Western tourists were attacked in Timbuktu. One was killed and three others kidnapped. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Mali.

The city was added to the World Heritage List in 1988 but this status is described as ‘in danger’ because of the dual threat of construction of new buildings and the impact of desert sands.

‘The Prime Minister made clear that we fully support the French government’s actions, working with the Malian government at their request, to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali.

‘The Prime Minister went on to explain that we are keen to continue to provide further assistance where we can, and depending on what French requirements there may be.

Timbuktu, which lies on an ancient caravan route, has entranced travellers for centuries.

It is some 620 miles northeast of Bamako. During their rule, the militants have systematically destroyed UNESCO World Heritage sites in Timbuktu.

A spokesman for the Al Qaeda-linked militants has said that the ancient tombs of Sufi saints were destroyed because they contravened Islam, encouraging Muslims to venerate saints instead of God.

Among the tombs they destroyed is that of Sidi Mahmoudou, a saint who died in 955, according to the UNESCO website.

Timbuktu, long a hub of Islamic learning, is also home to some 20,000 manuscripts, some dating back as far as the 12th century.

Owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them, while others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists.

With its cultural treasures, Timbuktu had previously been a destination for adventurous tourists and international scholars.

The world was shocked by its capture on April 1 by Tuareg desert fighters whose separatist rebellion was later hijacked by Islamist radicals who imposed severe sharia law.

Provoking international outrage, the Islamist militants who follow a more conservative Salafist branch of Islam destroyed dozens of ancient shrines in Timbuktu sacred to moderate Sufi Moslems, condemning them as idolatrous and un-Islamic.

They also applied amputations for thieves and stoning of adulterers under sharia, while forcing women to go veiled.

On Sunday, many women among the thousands of Gao residents who came out to celebrate the rebels’ expulsion made a point of going unveiled. Other residents smoked cigarettes and played music to flout the bans previously set by the Islamist rebels.

The Timbuktu operation comes a day after the French announced they had seized the airport and a key bridge in a city east of Timbuktu, Gao, one of the other northern provincial capitals that had been under the grip of radical Islamists.

The French and Malian forces so far have met little resistance from the Islamists, who seized northern Mali in the wake of a military coup in the distant capital of Bamako, in southern Mali.

‘Little by little, Mali is being liberated,’ French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television.

Fierce: Chadian soldiers secure Gao airport on Saturday. When they got to Timbuktu, the Islamist rebels fled, torching homesFierce: Chadian soldiers secure Gao airport on Saturday. When they got to Timbuktu, the Islamist rebels fled, torching homes.

Chad support fighter: But despite facing little of no resistance so far, they face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fightersChad support fighter: But despite facing little of no resistance so far, they face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fighters.

At Gao, more than 300 km (190 miles) east of Timbuktu, jubilant residents danced to music in the streets on Sunday to celebrate the liberation of this other ancient Niger River town from the sharia-observing rebels.

A third northern town, the Tuareg seat of Kidal, in Mali’s rugged and remote northeast, remains in the hands of the Islamist fighters, a loose alliance that groups AQIM with Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine and AQIM splinter MUJWA.

Assault: Ground forces backed by French paratroopers and helicopters took control of Timbuktu's airport and roads leading to the desert town in an overnight operationAssault: Ground forces backed by French paratroopers and helicopters took control of Timbuktu’s airport and roads leading to the desert town in an overnight operation.

Trundle on: A French military convoy moves through central Mali on their way to Timbuktu.Trundle on: A French military convoy moves through central Mali on their way to Timbuktu. The move marked the latest inroad by the two-week-old French mission to oust radical Islamists from the northern half of Mali, which they seized more than nine months ago.

No resistance: Chad soldiers around a fire at Goa airport. The French and Malian forces so far have met little resistance from the Islamists, who seized northern Mali in the wake of a military coup in the distant capital of Bamako, in southern MaliNo resistance: Chad soldiers around a fire at Goa airport. The French and Malian forces so far have met little resistance from the Islamists, who seized northern Mali in the wake of a military coup in the distant capital of Bamako, in southern Mali.

9 Christian Children Rescued from Trafficker Before Sold to Islamic Centers

From the Frontlines with Steve Hill » Nineteen Christian Children Rescued from a Trafficker. via Persecution News.

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 19 children, who were to be sold to fundamentalist Islamic boarding schools (madrassas), have been rescued. Traffickers lied to the children’s parents, saying they would take the children to Christian boarding schools in Dhaka, when in fact, they were intending to sell the children to various madrassas. Students from Dhaka University discovered the children and rescued them. This is not the first instance of Christian children being trafficked to madrassas, as upwards of 150 children have been rescued from similar situations since July 2012.

According to ICC sources, on Feb. 3, 19 children, ages 5 to 12, were rescued from a trafficker named Binoy Tripura. Binoy confessed that he “collected the kids from their parents with lies and convinced them that [he] will admit all the kids to a Missionary [Christian] school in Dhaka.” He then collected 15,000 Taka (Roughly $183 USD) from each of their parents and intended to receive payment from the madrassa upon delivery of the children.

The children, Christians from the Tripura tribe, realized something was not right during their long bus journey from the remote “Cimbuk Hill” in the Bandarban district to Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka. Twelve of the children ran away at a rest stop and called their parents to explain what was happening. Not knowing what else to do, the parents called Tripura tribal students attending Dhaka University, desperately asking for help. The university students met the bus in Dhaka, rescued the remaining six children, and captured Binoy, who is now in police custody.

This is not the first instance of traffickers targeting low-income, Christian families due to their faith and vulnerability. This year alone, 55 children have been rescued from madrassas in Dhaka. On Jan. 2, police rescued 21 children from five madrassas and “other Islamic organizations.” ICC sources say that these children were forcibly converted to Islam and had their Christian names legally changed to Muslim ones. They believe the children, once fully brainwashed at the madrassa, were “destined for suicide squads” for use in jihad.

ICC began receiving reports in July 2012 that Christian children were being trafficked to madrassas. The first 10 were rescued that same month and reported to ICC that they were forced to study Quran verses and Muslim prayers, pray five times a day, and learn Arabic. If they refused, they were beaten with live electric wires or rods, underfed, locked in small closets, and verbally abused. “I was beaten many, many times because I didn’t want to pray,” a rescued boy said. Sources indicate that as many as 200 more children may also be in need of rescue.

Christian Children kidnapped by Muslim Traffickers to be sold into Islamic slavery

Slavery might have been abolished in the United States and in many Western nations, but unfortunately, Islam never got the memo. But what should really disgust you is that this is a regular occurrence. In Bangladesh, over 55 children have been rescued from Islamic madrassas in this year alone. In Egypt, it’s a common occurrence, which has gotten worse as the “Arab spring” has continued.

A new report from George Washington University professor Michele Clark and Coptic rights activist Nada Ghaly has argued that thousands of young Coptic Christian girls in Egypt are the victim of kidnapping and forced servitude by Muslims in the North African country.

Women and girls who are found indicate they were befriended by friends or relatives of their kidnappers, or the kidnappers themselves, drugged and then taken in a well-organized plan.

For those who return home, the stories they bring are horrendous and full of abuse. Many of them are raped by their captors, beaten, and pushed into domestic servitude. In addition, they’re brainwashed into believing that the only escape they have is to convert to Islam. All the while, the families of the victims are unaware of their daughter’s whereabouts or if their even alive.

In Bangladesh, kidnapped children are sent to Madrassas (Islamic schools) where they’re forced to study the Quran, learn Arabic and pray five times a day. This is all done to indoctrinate the children on Islam and eventually convert them, where they will likely end up in “suicide squads” for Jihad. Like the Janissaries of old, who were conscripted from enslaved Christian boys; these children are used to further the goal of Islam.

Sadly, due to the oppression in many Islamic countries and the fact that many of the victims are Christian minorities, the police refuse to help.

In recent years, Coptic Christian advocacy groups have lambasted the Egyptian authorities for allegedly not forcing the return of Coptic girls to their families after they have allegedly been kidnapped by Muslim men. Police and media have reported scores of missing women over the past few years and many quickly return to their families without much explanation.

In most cases, the police are the only ones who have the power to rescue those kidnapped. Taking the police out of the equation leaves the abducted children to the mercy of their Muslim captors. A fate which destroys their lives forever.


John-Pierre Maeli writes weekly on his blog, The Political Informer. 

Like lambs marching to the slaughter house: 45,000 maids to arrive every month from Ethiopia

45K maids to arrive every month from Ethiopia

Last updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:54 AM

JEDDAH – Ethiopia is facilitating procedures to send 45,000 maids to the Kingdom every month, an informed source at the Ethiopian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has said.

Ethiopian housemaids have been high in demand after the Kingdom stopped recruiting housemaids from four countries, including Kenya, because the Kingdom has been unable to reach a satisfactory agreement with these countries, Asharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday.

Noor Adeen Masfa, Vice Consul for Economic Affairs in Jeddah, said his department and committees from the Ethiopian Ministry of Labor met several times to facilitate the travel of housemaids to the Kingdom after they are properly trained in Ethiopia.

“We decided to finish procedures of 1,500 housemaids due to the increasing demand for Ethiopian housemaids by Saudi families. Ethiopian housemaids are trained well on Saudi customs and traditions, besides the percentage of runaways is low,” he said.

Unavailability of sufficient flights from Addis Ababa has also caused the delay in the travel of a large number of housemaids.

Some Saudi families have complained that their Ethiopian housemaids left their households after coming to the Kingdom to work illegally because they get lucrative offers from private companies and brokers. Masfa said this matter was studied and discussed. Deterring penalties will be put on housemaids who do that, he said.

“Some Saudi families employ housemaids illegally and pay them SR2,000 a month. That’s why many housemaids run away,” he added.

Masfa said the Ministry of Labor in Ethiopia is considering to put conditions in the contracts to allow housemaids use a cell phone and talk to their families and the consulate in the Kingdom.

“Saudi recruitment offices have welcomed this idea,” he said. – SG

Saudi man is trying to sell his ‘castrated black African slave’ on Arab version of Facebook

The black slave trade is alive and well in Saudi Arabia, a place where one can still visit the seventh century, and not be in a museum.

Tundra Tabloids (h/t Susan K)

There has been many posts and stories about the ongoing African slave trade in Arab Muslim countries that seems to go unnoticed by the UN and most of the world. If the video first person accounts by former slaves didn’t convince you, here is an ad that was recently placed by a Saudi at Facebook:

ABDUL (slave) FOR SALE: Castrated black African slave
The Arabic blogger at Basees.blogspot has the following Google translation of the above ad:

I saw this ad on facebook and have no confirmed validity of the publication, but it seems to me that it is real. This site link is advertising it and although removed from the site, the ad was title: “Slave for sale (very special)” still exist in the top of the page and prove that he really is Matrouh.

رأيت هذا الإعلان منشور على الفيسبوك ولاأعرف مدى صحته، ولكنه يبدو لي بأنه حقيقي. وهذا رابط موقع الإعلان – إضغط هـنـا – ورغم إزالته من الموقع الآن، إلاّ أن عنوان الإعلان: “رقاقة للبيع (خاصة جداً)” لايزال موجود في أعلى الصفحة ويثبت أنه كان مطروح فعلاً.

لايوجد أي أساس لإنكار هذا الإعلان وتكذيبه، فالرق مشروع في الإسلام ولايحده زمان أو مكان. ولاشك بأنه لايزال يمارس بحكم شرعيته، بل يطالب البعض جهاراً نهاراً بإرجاعه – إضغط هـنـا وهـنـا – من قبل هؤلاء الذين لاتأخذهم في إلههم وشرائعه لومة لائم.

The ad:

Peace be upon you …

I have a [male] slave I bought from an African country and arranged for his visa and stay till I got him to Saudi [Arabia]

His description:

1 – Black skin. Tall 172 sm. Weight 60 kilos.
2 – Castrated (excellent for working with a family as he won’t rape your wife or children). You can check him out with a doctor or yourself if you have experience in the matter.
3 – [His] health is quite undamaged and has no imperfections.
4 – Age 26 years.
5 – Religion is Muslim and [he is] obedient and will not disobey you except in what displeases God. Please, the matter is very serious and is not a joke.

 

No it’s not a joke. Saudi Arabia had an estimated 300,000 slaves in 1960. Slavery was then officially abolished, but unofficially continues to exist.

Saudis who travel outside their country sometimes bring their slaves with them, leading to run-ins with the law. One of the ugliest such incidents was the murder of a slave by a Saudi prince in London.

The court had heard that the murder of Abdulaziz was the final act in a “deeply abusive” master-servant relationship in which the prince carried out frequent attacks on his aide “for his own personal gratification”.

Jurors were told that by the early hours of 15 February, Abdulaziz was so worn down and injured – having suffered a “cauliflower” ear and swollen eye from previous assaults – that he let Saud kill him without a fight.

Saud tried to cover up the true nature of his relationship with his servant, claiming they were “friends and equals”, but a porter at the Marylebone hotel where they had stayed said Abdulaziz was treated “like a slave”.

If progressives really cared about racism and sexism, they would take a hard look at the Muslim world. But of course, they don’t.

The slave owner has also posted links to clerics and Koran experts who clarify that slaves and sex slaves is perfectly legal in Islam and in accordance to Sharia:

A Human Connection: Modern Day Slavery of Ethiopian Women II

Posted by Billene

In a post from March 2012 here, i discussed the issue of modern day slavery of Ethiopian women in the middle-east and how countries like Indonesia and the Philippines insisted on better wages and conditions for domestic workers going to Saudi Arabia. These demands were followed by a ban as the Saudi Arabian government could not come into agreement on working conditions and pay.

Now in a similar and what i consider groundbreaking move, the Kenyan government has barred its citizens from seeking employment in the middle-east as domestic workers, per this piece on BBC (read more). I find this to be an important move that symbolizes a growing concern about the safety of African women migrating to the middle-east as domestic workers.

As a concerned citizen and a woman, i find the sheer number of middle-east bound female domestic workers i have encountered at Addis Ababa airport on several occasions throughout this year highly alarming. A week ago i started a conversation with a few of them as we stood in the airport immigration queue. Most of them asked me questions about what to do with the immigration forms they had in hand and how to proceed. One of them stuck out for me and we connected at a level i still can’t comprehend because i was utterly moved by her presence. She came from a rural town near Butajira in South-Central Ethiopia and now standing in line ahead of me her life’s journey would take her to Riyad, Saudi Arabia. As always i am curious to find out what sets these women on this path so i began to inquire on the factors that led to her taking the decision to be in that airport ready to set flight.

Unpretentious, trusting and open in her conversation with me, she nonchalantly expressed how she has never been interested in leaving her home town and on several occasions turned down this offer. She leads a modest life selling legumes in her community. However, her younger sister working as a domestic worker in Qatar insisted that she leave as well and explore a life beyond legumes. Her sister apparently had successfully processed the migration of eight women from her hometown and now was ever more insistent that her sister leave as well. The sister based in Qatar began her campaign of persuasion by convincing her sister’s husband to permit her to leave. He agreed that he was capable of taking care of their two children in her absence and insisted that she go, leaving her two and five-year old daughters behind in his care.

“Emama where are you going and when are you coming back” her two-year old asks her, she tells me. She laughs and continues that she responded by telling her “i’m going to go buy you bread”, “you want bread right?”, and her daughter agrees that she should come back with bread.

I am moved at this moment by both the simplicity in her approach to her journey and by the symbolic meaning of what “fetching bread” actually means and entails. She laughs some more and her vivaciousness tugs at my heart strings. Our conversation has attracted two more in the line, one going to Oman and the other to Saudi Arabia as well. The latter has consciously decided that she wants to help me pull my luggage as the queue progresses – i tell her not to worry, but she continues to pull it together with me- often times her hands resting on mine. I find that endearing and connecting – we are two women on different life paths yet connected in the simplicity of a shared presence.

We’re chatting away some more – about what i do, what they do, where they’re going, where i am going, about other people in the queue. The conversation is not flippant or judgmental- it is imbued with a human understanding and connection. I am in that moment touched by these women and their understanding of the world, their authenticity, the absence of cynicism, the will and courage to discover the unknown based on a picture drawn by someone else.

We’re at the top of the escalator where our paths have come to an end and will diverge. The last glimpse i have is of their hijab draped bodies hurriedly walking towards their gates. I take in a moment watching them walk away, silently expressing well wishes and protection in their new lives. And in that moment i make a covenant with myself – I will do something about this!

© 2012 africanfeminism.com

Ethiopian Woman Tells of Sex Slavery in Saudi Arabia

November 11, 2012

Source: bikyamasr

ADDIS ABABA: An Ethiopia woman revealed that she was the victim of sex slavery after she attempted to find work as aEthiopian women face massive hardships, including sexual violence domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.

For H, who asked that her identity remain anonymous, her ordeal began after she took a boat to Yemen, where after two months she was able to cross into Saudi Arabia and was hired by what she told Bikyamasr.com was a “nice couple” for a “decent salary.”

But that is when her horrific experience began. She continues to look down at her hands, ever moving, as she retells what she was forced to endure at the hands of her Saudi bosses.

“I don’t think the wife knew anything that was going on,” she is quick to point out. “But if she did hear my screams and did nothing, I hope she doesn’t sleep well.”

After three weeks of relative calm, H was finding life in southern Saudi Arabia comfortable and she was hoping that much of her first paycheck would be sent back to her family in Addis Ababa. Instead, no money came.

“When the fourth week came around, I was excited because I was being treated well and was doing my job I thought very good,” she continued.

But the day she asked when she would receive money, the husband, who she described as a construction manager, began grabbing her and forced her to the wall. She said she was screaming, but knew that nobody would come to her aid because the wife was out shopping and the two children were at school.

“He ripped my dress off and forced himself onto me. He raped me. This was just the beginning,” she said, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

“He would find me almost daily and rape me. He would force me to work naked in his office if nobody was home. He would tie me up and repeatedly force himself onto me over and over for hours if the wife was out of the house. I can’t imagine that I experienced this,” she added.

After four months of constant rape and sexual violence, H was able to escape late in the night after she found her door was unusually unlocked. She met up with three other Ethiopians and they fled back across the border into Yemen, where they were flown out of the country this fall as part of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) flights.

Her story is not unusual, she says, revealing that at least three other Ethiopian women were raped while working in Saudi Arabia.

“I would never wish any woman to work in Saudi Arabia, the stories I hear are horrific and I know how we are treated. We are slaves to whatever they want,” she added.

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants and refugees have entered Yemen since the end of July, according to a new report published by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The report said that some 51,000 Ethiopians have illegally crossed into Yemen after the short boat trip.

H is just one of the many Ethiopian women who attempted to have a better life outside their native country.

Modern-day Slavery of Ethiopian Women

 

She mostly comes from a poor community. She is female which introduces a whole new dimension to her experiences in a foreign land. She’s mostly Christian, newly converted to Islam to meet the demands of her work. She’s black African. Add to that she hardly speaks a word of Arabic. She might not even speak the official language of Ethiopia. She has probably never been to Addis Ababa until she began her process for migration, which can serve as a testing ground for what to expect in the metropolis of the Arab states. This concoction and intersection of class, gender, religion and race ultimately puts her in the bottom rung of the social strata in the Middle East. She has no information and whatever bit she has does not paint the correct picture. Once she lands in the Middle East, she is at the mercy of her employers. She has no telephone access. She has neither friends nor family to call upon. She is confronted with jealous wives and sex-seeking husbands. The Ethiopian Embassy, where one may exist, is unreachable to her because she is locked up and has no means to get access to her consulate. She is the modern-day slave fighting for survival.

Remembering Alem Dechassa

There is a piercing and disturbing pain that comes with witnessing the anguish and pain of another human being gripped in the relentless embrace of suffering. There is an even sharper pain that resonates with the realization that the intersection of class, gender, religion and race plays a huge role in the source of that person’s agony. And when that person is country folk, the sorrow felt in response to their torment in foreign lands is indescribable. Not because of an inability to feel the same for anyone in a similar situation, but because of a local understanding of the circumstances that paved their tumultuous path.

That piercing, disturbing, sharp pain and sorrow is what I have felt upon watching the viral video of Alem Dechassa, an Ethiopian domestic worker in Lebanon, being dragged by her hair and physically abused by her male employer in front of her Embassy grounds. Two days after the release of this video, reports came out that Alem Dechassa had committed suicide at the psychiatric hospital she had been admitted to. She is shown fighting for survival with every inch of breath and energy left in her.

Alem’s story is one that in Ethiopia we have become all too familiar with. The rural girl or woman who is burdened with the responsibility to take care of her family or is bridled with a passion for self-development, which the reality of her small rural community cannot afford her in its humble offerings. And so the journey that requires her to shed her language, religion, culture, name, family and all that is familiar becomes much more alluring.

Is it better?

A few weeks back I find myself in a modest hair salon in the city of Bahir Dar by Lake Tana. Conversation in there is bubbling about the next wave of women making their way to the Middle East in search of better opportunities. A young woman who is friends with one of the employees in the hair salon has come in to get her hair done before her departure the next day. I ask her where she is going and she replies with caution of her flight from Addis Ababa the next evening to Saudi Arabia. I am afraid to ask her more lest my queries and my worries about the life of a domestic worker in the Middle East should come off as patronizing. Nevertheless, I proceed with one commonly asked and somewhat irrelevant question, “is it better?” It’s irrelevant because I know she has come this far with the choice in mind that indeed it was better. Yet I ask her anyways, to get her perspective on the journey ahead of her.

She is cautious in her responses but she is also fierce. There is determination in her voice projecting to her listener that this journey is one with a purpose and end time. She has processed her contract through a “legitimate” agency she shares with me. She adds that the Ethiopian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs have provided them with training on what to expect there, what their rights are, that they are not to give away their passports, and that they are within their right to change to different employers within the first three months of each contract. She assures me that the problem cases arise when processed through the illegitimate sending agencies only. She plans to return back with cash in hand in a few months time to start-up something in Bahir Dar.

If her dreams go as planned, it is better. Who am I to doubt that while sitting in my seat of privilege?  Even my cousin has made a better life for herself after some short years in Bahrain in domestic servitude. That is if we do not factor in her near death experience when her employer’s mother poisoned her and the other time when her employer’s brother attempted to rape her.

But how long do we continue to “not factor in” these instances accepting them as “minor” hiccups in these women’s progress to self-development?

Race to the bottom

There is a socio-economic concept that posits that when a certain country X enforces strict regulations say on taxation or labor standards, foreign direct investment will seek another country with less stringent regulations. In essence, flexible regulations enable the “race to the bottom”. I found this theory somewhat worthy of mention upon reading a news article from earlier this month in which it is stated that Saudi Arabia alone is seeking up to 45,000 Ethiopian domestic workers per month to meet its requirements. This increase in demand is attributed to Saudi Arabia’s placement of “a ban on recruiting workers from the Philippines and Indonesia after those countries imposed stricter employment conditions.” (Read more here: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/saudi-seeks-45k-new-ethiopian-maids-per-month-450089.html).

This is a classic example of the Saudi Arabian government denying its responsibilities to create hospitable working conditions for migrant workers, and rather preying on countries like Ethiopia who are still in the process of strengthening their support systems for domestic workers going abroad. If in essence the Saudi government is refusing to honor better pay and living conditions for the thousands of women who flock there, would it be an overstatement to suggest that they are institutionalizing a modern form of slavery?

Whose responsibility is it anyways?

Should all fingers only be pointing to the government for a resolution? Do we as citizens not have a part to play in information sharing and raising awareness? Can we who cry out in condemnation of the many Alem stories not put our minds together and come up with a bridging solution that can reduce some of the symptoms of this problem before our girls and women leave? Can we not collaborate with the few human rights organizations working in these Middle Eastern countries to also incorporate our migrant workers in their agenda?

This is the moment when I wish for an Alem2012 viral campaign video that would generate the same fervor for action and worldwide condemnation of the Middle East track record for treatment of migrant workers.

To the governments of Middle East countries who are host to our domestic workers, I insist, our women and girls are not bottom of the rung for us!

Watch “Nightmare in Dreamland” here, a documentary on the plight of Ethiopian and other domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates.

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