Victims, Criminals, Heroines: Indonesian Domestic Workers in Singapore

A few months ago, I came across an article about how more Burmese domestic workers in Singapore were running away from exploitative conditions. The caption of the photo told me a lot about how the mainstream media in Singapore (heavily controlled by the government) viewed these domestic workers as as causing a ‘commotion.’ This reminded me of research I had previously done as part of my Master’s thesis on Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore, where I analysed how mainstream media viewed these … [Read more...]

Putting Texts in Context: Saudi Text Tagging

Earlier this month, CNN Expansión reported that the Saudi government aimed to prohibit the Blackberry Messenger service, since it is considered a threat to national security because the service doesn’t allow the government to intercept messages.Blackberry has become very popular among single young people, who use it as a way to connect with men or women in a society where gender segregation is strictly imposed. Although negotiations continue between Blackberry and the government, the go … [Read more...]

The Boy Who Cried “Witch!”: Saudis Investigate Domestic Workers for Witchcraft

Something decidedly medieval is in the air in Saudi Arabia. Fears of black magic and curses cast by Indonesian domestic helpers have spread across the country, and  Saudi employers increasingly feel the need to hire private investigators to check their domestic workers for suspicious behavior and evidence for witchcraft.Investigators, mostly foreign women from neighboring countries, are paid to search for photographs, hair, or clothes belonging to the employers before the domestic helpers are … [Read more...]

The Rahma Campaign: Have Mercy

There is an interesting new public service announcement campaign being produced in Saudi Arabia and shown across the Middle East, drawing attention to the abuse that many migrant domestic workers face, and emphasising Islamic traditions of mercy in calling for a change of attitude. (Okay, it's not that new anymore, but we haven't covered it yet!)Esra'a from Mideast Youth writes that: Domestic housemaids number in the millions in the region and most are in the Gulf. Many are reportedly … [Read more...]