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Viciously racist cartoon in Qatari daily paper 7, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The Gulf.
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9 comments

Some weeks ago Qatari  Gulf Times published a vicious, stereotyped cartoon referring to maids killing babies.

Domestic worker issues are prevalent in many of the Gulf States. When I refer to ‘issues’ I am referring to widespread violence, mistreatment, contract infringements and more frequent than you may expect examples of rape perpetrated on workers brought over often from South East Asia. Indeed, so arduous and essentially awful is their treatment at the hands of their Gulfy employers (i.e. a minority of ordinary Gulf families) that there are daily reports of worker suicides by, for example, drinking bleach, to be found across Gulf daily newspapers. The key here is to think of just how awful their life must be for them to find the option of drinking bleach as preferable.

The US State Department maintains an annual people trafficking tier system ranking countries across the world. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran are in the US’ third and worst tier of offenders. Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are one tier up on the Tier 2 watch list. There is, therefore, unequivocally a sizable problem region-wide.

Many of the excuses that are trotted out in mock/quasi defense of the flagrant abuse of domestic workers stem from essentially apocryphal stories about maids and babysitters attacking or killing children in their care.

This cartoon, therefore, is viciously making fun of this situation. Satire is an useful tool to be aimed at the pompous and powerful. These people have neither of these things: they don’t even have their own passports. It is wrong and utterly risible and reprehensible of this cartoonist (mo7md@raya.com) to design and for the Gulf Times to print this cartoon. It is not even as if the cartoon is that smart or witty: read the caption.

“Your mum shouted at me today just becauseI [sic] broke a plate. An I am going to strike back. Count on me you brat, you won’t sleep at home tonight! You will stay at Al Sadd Children’s’ Emergency. Open your mouth now. This dish I havemade [sic] will make you dizzy for hours.”

This is clunky, poorly written, poorly punctuated and lifeless English, written by someone with a shaky grasp of the language, trying, I assume, to be cutting and mean to a wholly disenfranchised and downtrodden segment of society. What a guy.

Satire: biting, mean, vindictive and harsh satire, I have no problem with. Yet, – it bears mentioning once again – the key is who it is aimed at. For the Gulf Times to sanction this piece promoting however slightly the myth that persists and is to some degree responsible for violence faced by domestic workers problems in the region, vilifying the utterly defenceless workers that raise most nationals’ children in the Gulf is, essentially, a disgusting and bullying decision. Shame on them.