Kuwait TV Channel Mocks Migrant Worker Abuse

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Jul 15 2012

The Kuwaiti channel Funoon TV has taken the trivialization of migrant rights to another level; the video above is a clip of a mock interview with a Kuawiti man imitating a domestic worker. The man, speaking and dressed stereotypically, feigns he ran away from an employer after breaking a pot, fearing that he would be yelled at or worse. A laugh track was clearly added to the background - we hope because the actual audience didn't find the material quite so funny.

Last week, we spotlighted several cartoons that similarly belittled the conditions facing migrant workers. Slanted media articles have long downplayed the struggles facing migrant workers, but these satirical pieces represent an entirely new level of sadism, especially in a country where abuse is so frequent; the grievous tales of migrant workers are featured daily in Kuwaiti newspapers. Just in the past week, an Indian worker committed suicide in his employer's house. Employer abuse or exploitation is almost always the primary factor in migrant suicides.

Still in this past week, one migrant was killed and another was injured as they attempted to escape from captivity. Earlier this month, an employer was arrested after torturing her maid for four years. Also this month, a sick maid was abandoned at a hospital by her employers. The employers would not release any of her personal information to the hospital. Instead, they retained possession of her passport - as if they wished to prevent her from returning home on the off chance she recovered. She soon passed away. More cases of abuse in this month are discussed here and here.

The writers and actors of this bit cannot claim any ignorance to the seriousness of the issues they ridicule. They, and any audience that finds humor in their material, are inculpated in Kuwait's systemic abuse because they normalize these degrading, dehumanizing attitudes towards migrant workers. Please contact the television channel and demand a public apology from the show. You can lodge your complaint using Facebook, Twitter, or this form.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East