Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sponsorship in Bahrain

In Bahrain most of the menial jobs are performed by people from third world countries. To get them here they put ads in the papers of countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philipines and Bangladesh. Once someone answers the ad they are sponsored by a Bahraini individual, the only way they can come to this country to work.

The deal with the sponsor is up to the individual sponsor, but the sponsor pays for the flight to Bahrain. Some offer to pay for brief trips home every two years or so. Once a sponsored individual is here what they do is pretty much up to the sponsor. Some women are placed in brothels, others work as maids, beauticians, etc. Most of the men go into manual labor. A percentage of their wages goes to the sponsor. Some are mistreated and run away, living in illegal slum communities, ekking out a living as best they can while trying to stay under the government's radar.

I'm fairly sure this system was set up to bring in help for Bahraini homes, but some take advantage of the system and bring over many more people than they need which is why there are always people looking for work and labor is so inexpensive. You can't go anywhere without someone offering to wash your car for a dinar and I had no end of applicants when we hired a maid when we lived here before.

All of this makes me so grateful to have been born in the US where we have a high living standard as well as individual freedoms and rights. Visiting a place like Bahrain really makes you think about what might have been, but for the accident of your birthplace.

Tomorrow the souqs!


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