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Abuse of migrant workers has long been an issue in the Middle East, however, a rather extreme case has been making headlines in Jordan. The Indonesian Embassy here is filing a lawsuit against a doctor who dumped his maid in front of a medical facility.
The Indonesian maid has a severe case of tuberculosis and weighed less than 45 pounds, reports the Jordan Times. The doctor's family had kept her for 19 months without pay and the doctor's mother frequently abused the maid. Medical officials say it will take at least two months for the girl to recover.
The case illustrates how many countries that supply the Middle East with domestic helpers are taking bigger steps to protect their countrymen overseas. Earlier this year, Indonesia and the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding that will regulate the recruitment of domestic helpers in Jordan.
While governments are working to take action to prevent these types of incidents, it will take much longer to eliminate the racsim that many Asian and South Asians face in the Middle East, as many Arabs tend to brand them all as the servant class. A Chinese-American friend of mine who lived in Beirut told me this story about an embarrassing gaffe in Lebanon that's recounted here by Guardian reporter Anna Louie Sussman. Whether or not it's true, it's eminently believable.
Although it is, perhaps, an urban myth, a friend once told me how the wife of an Asian ambassador had been asked to leave the swimming pool of an upscale beach club when other patrons complained to the management that "the help" was swimming in the pool. The fact that her social class and diplomatic status overrode the colour of her skin, causing embarrassment and profuse apologies, only makes it worse.