The plight of some, who might not see the light never again.
Posted on August 24th, 2019

Laksiri Warnakula

The letter by ‘JAYMAN’ in the opinion column of the ‘Island’ of 20-08-19 titled ‘Ban export of slave labour to West Asia’ once again reminds us of the misery and the suffering the daughters of Mother Lanka go through, while working as domestic aides in the ME.

The majority of these unfortunate women ranging from quite young (possibly just past the teenage) to middle-aged often choose to go to these countries because of poverty, which the rulers of their Motherland cannot do anything about. Or it is quite likely that these politicians are burdened by and saddled with more urgent problems and the plight of these women doesn’t seem as one needing ‘top-priority attention’, in spite of the fact that their foreign exchange earnings constitute a formidable fraction, if not the biggest, of the total foreign exchange earnings coming into the country. 

Even when incident after incident, which we hear from time to time about some of these hapless, unfortunate women getting beaten, tortured and even maimed and murdered by their masters, both the past and the present governors of the nation remained and continue to remain blind to the tragedy and for all intents and purposes they do seem to be wholly unperturbed by those tragic incidents.

One would find it hard to understand let alone describe their callous disregard for the well-fare and wellbeing of these poor workers, who or nearly most of them become virtual slaves to these aliens, not because they like it or want it. They do not have any other option, when the heads of their country haven’t shown any interest in designing and launching short-term and long-term island-wide poverty alleviation programmes.

Temporary reliefs mostly with hidden political agendas are given out with lots of fanfare. Yet we all know the sustainability of such handouts. Even if they are sustained somehow, with great cost to the nation, the consequent economic ramifications will materialise in time to come. So all will be back to where they were before, with or without that increased ‘Samurdhi’ allowances and other handouts. So in the end the poor will stay poor or become poorer and our women virtually lambs to the slaughter will continue to board planes bound for these countries.

And going back to those alien masters even though they now are supposedly living in modernity, most of them are still close in their mindset to a people, who lived in medieval times, living in those god-forsaken, arid, desert lands and their attitude towards their own women is well known. And when it comes to foreign women, it is quite natural for them to look down upon and treat them like slaves. It is quite unlikely that those people will look at these women as paid workers, who need to be treated with dignity and respect too.

I do not wish to go much further. Many a concerned citizen has written about these Sri Lankan domestic aides working in the ME. Their working conditions and how they are treated by their masters are not secrets anymore, except perhaps to our politicians in the government and the relevant authorities, who still seem unconvinced.

And the elections are not far away. Lots of things are given in the form of promises and in kind and in cash too. Sanctimony and sincerity, both obviously phony, targeting the gullible voter, in particular, are over flowing almost everywhere.  

Let’s hope that whoever is going to sit at the helm next, will seriously do something about these daughters of Mother Lanka too and start work paving the way to stop this poverty-driven exodus to the ME.

Lastly, I have written two letters on the same subject, the first one fifteen years ago and the other just one year ago.

Has anything changed since?

And has anything changed since?

Laksiri Warnakula

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