Abolishing Sponsorship System

Suha Aljundi

Although abolishing sponsorship system is a significant development , it is not a guarantee against ill-treatment of expatriates. What is more urgent to change is the culture itself. Feeling proud that one is so lucky to be bestowed with oceans of oil and gas does not justify inhumane treatment of expatriates. Abolishing sponsorship system does not ensure kind treatment void from yelling at the employee, not tasking him with duties not within the scope of their work, very low salaries in the light of high living expenses, repugnant discrimination between citizens and non-citizens, intervention in a person's clothes and way of living, prohibiting domestic helpers from going out or having a day off work, beating workers, threatening to deport them and many other acts that make a worker's life like a hell.
What is needed is a law against abuse of workers that triggers thinking among abusers and makes them adopt a more just treatment of their workers. And think about people who have worked for a country for many years without any benefit for retirement except for the end-of-service indemnity. If this practice is enacted by poor countries, there may be a justification, but it is practiced by people who have money to burn. They are so confident to stand in front of international organizations as civilized people and request to host international events when YouTube is filled with their shameful behavior. Abolishing sponsorship is just a cosmetic treatment of a very ugly face. The core of the situation has not changed and it will not change unless all aspects of life on the ground prove it.
Thousands of lives have vanished due to the modern age slavery. Thousands of workers work under the sizzling sun in the middle of August, and many of them lost their lives as a result, leaving behind anguished families. Many people die just to let other pampered people enjoy life. The hidden suffering inside houses is even greater than what is apparent. If a domestic helper is beaten, she will be silent so as not lose her job and stop support for her family back in her home country.
Think about the Asians who convert to Islam just to get more benefits and be praised by their employers. Who believes that those people relinquish their religions voluntarily? Pressure can be exercised indirectly. People should get all their rights regardless of their religion. And they are so happy with this act that they broadcast it on TV. Perhaps they believe people are so ignorant to believe it. Those poor people even learn the Islamic rhetoric and the usual expressions said by religious people just to avert the wrath of the frivolous who are intolerant of difference. I have seen Asians who have converted to very pious people and they have become leaders of some groups. They adopt this appearance in order to be safe and powerful and fully accepted by the community.
I am not naming any country to avoid legal disputes, but the message should be clear to all. Dropping sponsorship system does not change the common culture which is deeply instilled among locals. Strong and developed countries have no issues because if one of their citizens is yelled at or beaten, the consequences are grave for the whole country. In contrast, citizens of poor countries live in agony literally. Those are the ones who need protection from the awkward culture.
Some may argue that we cannot ask people to change their culture to satisfy others. Well, then hosting international event is an honor which they do not deserve. Only civilized countries which cherish humanity and abolish all kinds of discrimination are the ones which deserve this honor.
Suha Aljundi