Where the flight ends and the plight begins
Posted on July 28th, 2018

Laksiri Warnakula

The recent photo of a group of female Sri Lankan to-be-domestic aides on their way to the arid Middle East made me very sad and even brought tears to my eyes. Dressed in kind of a uniform, they were walking in single file towards the exit and then onwards to the great unknown that lies beyond.

The uniforms were supposedly for the benefit of the agent at the other end, making the identification easy for him. So that he can be sure that these veritable ‘lambs to the slaughter’ are indeed his flock and no one else’s.

There were quite a few posts on virtually all forms of media condemning the uniform as a silent whisper, yet roaring in public to say that here are the daughters of Lanka on their way to meet their foreign masters and that all under the sun could hear it and see them too, very well!

We all know that the Sri Lankans working overseas play a leading role in bringing hard currency to the country and amongst them, those, who are working in the Middle East as domestic helpers constitute an appreciable fraction. That’s what all those figures in statistical tables say.

So far so good as far as those figures go, which they often do anyway, whilst hiding the hideous and the horror that lay behind them. Have we ever cared as to what lies behind those numbers? Have our authorities ever noticed or wondered?

We all know how male-dominant these countries are and the nature of the mindset that they have acquired as a result, towards their own women. I don’t think anyone needs to be told as to how they would look at and treat these hapless foreign women.

Sometimes getting battered and bruised, often sweared-at by their masters, our mothers, sisters and daughters spend years slaving away in those homes, breaking their backs whilst, constantly at the risk and under the threat of getting abused, both physically and mentally.

Some of them pay the price in the form of irreparable trauma done to their dignity, sanity, and soul. Few of them have paid the ultimate price, for listening to and believing in the grandiose sermons of their agents, a grotesque, macabre reward to the innocent and the gullible for doing so.

In Saudi Arabia, one of the prime locations of our female domestic-aid workforce, Sri Lanka is said to be called the ‘country of housemaids’. Can any country be proud of this, let alone one with a civilization dating back to or even further than two and a half millennia?

We are still not even halfway as far as this bitter tale goes. Back at home and in some families (no statistics available as far as I know, yet numbers wouldn’t be insignificant or small) of those working mothers, another drama unfolds.

Some unscrupulous husbands now feeling freer and lighter than kites floating in the skies above our Galle Face greens, relieved of work to meet their families’ needs and looking after the responsibilities, suddenly become adventurous and curious going well past the average. They begin to dance, gallop and gallivant in ecstasy, immerse themselves in pleasures of intoxication, forbidden flesh and gambling.

And the children are often left to their own devices, mostly being looked after by the grandparents or other siblings of the mother.

There are a few other; the dirty, the obscene and the ugly, which many a concerned writer has pointed out before me and I don’t think they need any further mention or reference.

I am sure we keep records of relevant data relating to all juvenile delinquents/young offenders spending their time in rehabilitation centres and open prison camps. Has any authority tried to delve into those data and made attempts to establish whether there is any relationship between the ‘instances of a mother-working overseas in this particular capacity or one related to it, and the incidents of juvenile delinquency’? And how many incidents are left unreported, anyway? I am sure that there is a lot more of them, which do not come in the limelight.

Now where is the solution? We cannot stop people from going overseas to work. But we can make them pause, think and stop. What if?

And the authorities, the biggest villain in this tragic drama should take immediate steps to investigate, study and begin necessary actions to establish a benchmark income level, which is on par with the current standard of living in the country and ensure that the relevant stratum of the populace is lifted above that mark.

In short, this is poverty alleviation. In fact it is ‘accelerated poverty alleviation’, which is not impossible, if the will is there.

‘Stop being spendthrift by dipping into our starving coffers. Stop playing with the country’s well-being and welfare. Get off your high horse. Cut off your excesses and pleasures, which are obscene, wicked demonstrations that smack of abuse of power.

Stop your name-building and spreading your fame at any cost or aiming for self-glorification while, pouring monies into bottomless pits (with highly disproportionate returns in comparison) that one day will be asking you in no uncertain terms to return the favours granted that cannot be met unless we sell more and more of the country while, caught in a vicious cycle of debt.

Instead, concentrate on efficacy, efficiency and productivity. Give a thunderous lion’s roar as one, so that we all could hear it; no to corruption, no matter how big or small it is and leave aside your petty, party, paltry politics, for the greater good of the nation’.

We should start doing something about it from right now with the top leading the way by example.

If we do this, the day won’t be too far away, when the end of that ‘flight would not become the beginning of a plight for some, any more’.

Laksiri Warnakula

12 Responses to “Where the flight ends and the plight begins”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Read the new article published today in all our local papers. This is the outcome. These arabs think that Sri Lanka is a ‘country of housemaids’ and even assault the customs officials in the airport.

    Kuwaiti couple attack customs officials at BIA over pet dog

    Five customs officials have been hospitalized after they were allegedly assaulted by a Kuwaiti couple at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) after they were asked to quarantine their pet dog.

    Sri Lanka Customs said that the couple arrived in Sri Lanka this morning from Kuwait bringing their pet dog with them, but were not willing to abide by the Sri Lankan Animal Quarantine regulation.

    The Kuwaiti couple allegedly attempted to forcibly exit the Arrival Lounge of Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake while attacking the Customs Officials.

    Five Customs Officers including a Deputy Director and a female staffer have been injured in the incident and were subsequently admitted to the Negombo Hospital, the spokesman said.

    The incident was reported to the Katunayake Police, he said.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    I am foster father to 4 orphaned children (among many others) whose mother was killed under very suspicious circumstances while working as a houseman in a Persian Gulf country. Their father, a carpenter, died soon after leaving them destitute. They are now in my care …. safe and sound with a guarantee of a good education and a secure future.

    Their school principal says about 50% of the mothers of the children attending his school are working abroad. These little kids often have no parents at home to love, care for and guide them. He says they are often in trouble at school not only with regard to their education but also because of emotional disorders that lead to misbehavior. Those parents working abroad sometimes never return and abandon their children and elderly family members at home.

    We are DESTROYING our gentle well behaved compassionate Sinhala Buddhist society. Our leaders with their profligate and corrupt spending fail to protect our people and the things we value the most: our tradional morals, ethics and values. We will RUE THE DAY WE FORGOT our PRINCIPLES in the QUEST of FOOLS GOLD!

    These FOOLISH SELF-DESTRUCTIVE ATTITUDES are becoming entrenched at a greater pace under the PARA-GATHI Yamapalanaya that cares only for the monetary advancement of the political elite.

    We HAVE TO STOP THIS, SOMEWAY, SOMEHOW, VERY SOON!

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Although the individual reason is poverty, the bigger reason is our debt trap and balance of payment deficit. The first add a burden of $3 billion plus a year and the latter about another $7 billion a year. Sri Lanka needs forex to meet these obligations.

    Borrowings must stop no matter how hard it is. Bring development to a standstill. It is OK. Let the economy recover with no new debt burden added. Let there be local investments. Government expenditure must be reduced drastically. Excessive governance structures must be removed.

    I was disappointed to hear Gotabaya plans to waste more money in the north and east hoping against reason and hope that it will end Tamil hostility. It will only end up in a situation where more Sri Lankan women need to be exported.

  4. aloy Says:

    Why are these women leaving?. Because it is the easiest way to solve all the problems immediately: provide food for the children as their men are without employment, build s decent house etc. It is a win win situation for all: politicos will have enough forex to import luxury goods, and also provide surety for mega projects given for foreign funded loans etc. Public officials will have money to import expensive cars while engaged in embezzlement of government funds. So everybody loves it.

    Will we have the correct leadership even after one and a half years?. I do not see anyone in the horizon. Perhaps no one is allowed to come to the limelight by the biased media.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    aloy,

    INDEED, the PIGS at the TROUGH in Sri Lanka who does not care what happens to our impoverished children, our helpless elders, and the integrity of our society as a whole in the long term, LOVE sending our most vulnerable citizens to the middle-east as veritable indentured slaves, who will never be able to return.

    Meanwhile, our so-called leaders fatten their own purses without developing A COHESIVE STRATEGIC PLAN to end this practice and bring these helpless fellow citizens HOME to their loved ones, and ENABLE them to live a DECENT LIFE contributing their energy to BUILDING their own MOTHERLAND into a land fit for Sinhala Buddhists of generations to come!

    Little by little, the Sinhala Buddhists are ABANDONING their HOMELAND to ILLEGAL and LEGAL immigrant settlers from other lands with the connivance of UNPATRIOTIC people like the current crop of Yamapalana leaders.

    In the fullness of time, Sri Lanka will only be remembered as the land previously inhabited and cherished by a vanished race of proud people who lovingly called it the Resplendant Isle!

  6. Randeniyage Says:

    I have years of experience living as an expat and sitting next to house maids often in flight. I always make a point to talk to them. Not all go because to poverty, I should say.

    When I leave my family and live alone in studio apartment,s although alone, there is also freedom from responsibility stress at home. It is the same thing about there women. When they are at home there is trouble form parent, siblings, due to poverty and due to various injustice in the society. They are happy to leave these troubles behind and make new friends. They are excited when returning with some money and decent cloths after few years of relative comfort abroad. Surely there is mistreatment and torture here and there but majority are happy to leave.

    I am proud to say I married such a girl who went abroad at the age of 19. We are happily married for 35 years now and have beautiful children who fight injustice all the time.

    We should not politicize everything.

  7. Randeniyage Says:

    There is encouragement seeing the victory of Imran Khan.
    Who thought he could come to power in year 2005 ?

  8. Randeniyage Says:

    Are our judges on drugs ? How could they allow this dogs out without quarantine ? Does this happen anywhere else in the world ?

    Kuwaiti couple given bail after Sri Lanka airport brawl
    Jul 28, 2018 20:01 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

    ECONOMYNEXT – The Negombo magistrate has released on personal bail a Kuwaiti couple arrested over an assault that resulted in the hospitalisation of five customs officers who tried to stop them smuggling a pet dog.

    The couple was produced before magistrate Nelson P. Kumaranayaka and granted bail on Saturday night, officials said adding that a further hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

    Customs officers lodged a complaint with police after the 32-year-old woman and her 29-year-old male partner went on the rampage attacking customs agents after they were told that their dog could not enter the country without following quarantine procedures.

    “Bail had been granted and the dog too had been released to the couple, but customs will press charges separately for taking the animal out without paying the applicable duty in addition to quarantine rules,” customs spokesman Vipula Minuvanpitiya said.

    The five customs officers who were physically assaulted first by the Kuwaiti woman and then by her male companion have now been discharged from the Negombo base hospital.

    Officials said it was the first case of an importer of a pet assaulting customs officers.

    (COLOMBO, July 28, 2018)

  9. aloy Says:

    Why are we in this state where the country has to depend on exporting women as housemaids to ME. I think that is because we were always revolutionaries and aligned with the socialist block. When others such as Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore were getting help from the US, we were very antagonistic to them. Although they do not help us directly they are our biggest trade partner even today.
    We had a very good university in 60s on par with the best in the world and we were not indebted to anybody.

    In 1967 my batchmate made a transistor radio. It had two vacuum tubes of about one inch in dia and about two inch in length. Since the quality was very good I bought it. Today my hand held iphone has 4.3 billions of them and it does wonderful things for me. And the chip for the same is made in Taiwan which was way behind us in terms of development then. They have been able to beat companies like AMD which is a world leader. How did we miss the ‘bus’?.
    If we start even now (with all the support the Yahaps get from US) in 10-15 years time we should be able to catch up. To show the complexity of the process in industries like this where countries like Taiwan had been able to make headway I give a video showing how AMD ( a US company) does it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLGAoGhoOhU

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Aloy,

    Oops …. I think. A 2 transistor radio with 2 vacuum tubes!?!? That does not make sense; I think you meant to say a 2 vacuum tube radio.

    BTW, I helped my EE friends at the eFac in Peradeniya make a REFLEX analog radio using the triode-pentode double tube ECL80. In that circuit, that one tube did the work of 4 separate vacuum tubes, first working at Radio Frequencies as a TRF receiver with two highly selective tuned circuits, and then at Audio Frequencies as a 2-stage audio amplifier driving a speaker at good volume.

    I first made that circuit, first published in the British Practical Wireless magazine, when I was 14 years old for a school science exhibition. I still lovingly remember it and can draw it from memory. Recently I rebuilt the same circuit again using antique parts imported from the UK via eBay!

    It was easily the best, most cost effective, and most enjoyable electronics project I have built to this day after building many more much more complicated analog and digital circuits since then for both business and pleasure.

  11. aloy Says:

    Ananda,

    Thanks for correcting me.
    Perhaps one was doing the amplification (triode ?)and the other the work of transistor. I do not think the solid state transistors were around at that time. Even Appolo which landed in moon supposed to have a vacuum tube system with a 2K memory. You should know better. We did not even have electronic calculators and had to use the slide rule for calcs. Anyway your narrative shows how much talent we have lost. I put the blame on guys like Wickrambahu, Kumar David et al. who should have led the electrical students without taking them on the path of politics. However there are some encouraging signs. See the video given bellow. I think the guy in the discussion panel is the new presidential candidate Rohan Pallewatta. He says his turn over in supplying electronic parts (actuators for car air bags) is around US $ 70.0m per year.
    https://vimeo.com/120766543

  12. Christie Says:

    Hi folks looks like my comments are getting erased.

    If you look at other Indian Colonies like us, our situation is not that bad. Look at the plight of the natives of Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana and other Indian Colonies.

    It is not too late for us to understand our plight and unite ourselves against India and Indian imperialists.

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