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Slavery Still Rife in Arab World

Britain's new prime minister, Theresa May, introduced the world-leading Modern Slavery Act in 2015 to send the strongest possible signal that “those responsible for this vile exploitation would face justice.” Nevertheless, slavery is still going on in England today. 

The indentured servants of wealthy foreigners are shepherded straight from an incoming flight to a car without passing through immigration or customs because their supremely wealthy lords are above the law. Cases of servant mistreatment rarely get to be heard in court. The stories told by escaped servants (largely unpunished and unreported) are horrific.

The Daily Mail on March 15, 2011 related that an African servant was forced to sleep on the floor for £10 a month “wages” until her employer, a female doctor of Asian origin, decided not to pay her anything at all.

Even when escaping “servants” manage to report abuse to a police station, the Saudi Arabia and Gulf States employers are rarely prosecuted.
In Arab countries it is far worse. Qatar, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates operate under the kafala “sponsorship” system which brutally controls the foreign workforce that does all of their labor.

Any foreigner seeking employment in these countries has to have a “sponsor” who arranges their visa. The foreign worker's passport is confiscated and the employee has no right to change jobs or leave the country without the permission of the person holding his/her passport. Such permission is almost never given.

A November, 2013 Amnesty International report about construction workers in Qatar state that they live in squalor, are forced to sleep in tiny cell-like rooms with almost no room to lie down, without proper sanitary or kitchen facilities. 

Kafala applies to all foreign workers, even those hired for top jobs. Zahir Belounis, a French footballer signed on contract in Qatar whose wage was withheld, was locked in Qatar for 19 months until an international outcry released him. Philippe Bogaert, a Flemish businessman who went to work for the local subsidiary of a Belgian company, was held hostage in Qatar for more than a year, until escaping by boat under cover of darkness.

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