Friday, October 13, 2006

What's the difference ?

The country is run autocratically, with the voting population given very limited actual say over the running of the country. The disenfranchised population outnumbers those who have the "right to vote" many times to one. Millions of migrant workers have left poverty striken areas to work in the cities with streets of gold.

These workers fill lowly manual labourer positions, doing jobs that those who run the country refuse to do. These same migrant workers have very few rights and are frequently subject to basic human rights violations by those in power who are often above the law. They are paid poverty datum line wages and are treated far worse than the pampered pooches of their "bosses".

Crammed , sardinelike, into "hostels" or "labour camps" with less than basic amenities, some resort to sleeping on rooftops and the street or to timesharing their beds. They are separated from their families for months/years at a time - wives and children are not allowed. If wives are generously given work, they live in rooms the size of a cupboard, are not allowed to have their children or husbands with them and are expected to work all hours of the day and night. These women babysit the "madams" babies and, in many cases are the primary caregiver - virtually bringing them up.

Workers are threatened with "deportation" if they complain or question their treatment as there are many, many more who would be grateful to have these jobs because their homelands are wracked with poverty and disease. It is so easy to take advantage of these desperate people, and expect them to be grateful in return.

However, crime is low because punishment is swift and harsh. Lower castes are herded into their camps at night and those found wandering in affluent neighbourhoods are treated with suspicion by the police force who keep good law and order through fear of consequences. The economy booms because of natural resources that are sought after and prices are high. Tourists enjoy the rapidly growing attractions - huge hotel cities are built purely for their pleasure. They are safe and their pounds/dollars go far - they can live in luxury undreamt of in their home countries.

Slowly resentment and envy creep into the psyche of those at the bottom of the feeding chain. As prices rise, unaffecting the upper echelons, reports begin of petty crime - the theft of some bicycles, shoplifting, handbag and purse snatching. The powers-that-be decide that, in order not to panic tourists and the wealthy, newspapers should adhere to the adage that "less (reporting) is more".

More and more incidents of assault, rape and murder take place. Animal cruelty increases, beggars and scammers proliferate - despite efforts to keep them curbed. People are disillusioned with the overcrowded, stressed "golden" cities and become more aggressive and depressed. Suicide rates increase, alcoholism increases and drugs become a serious problem.

I've just realised .... I don't know if I am writing about the UAE or South Africa ....
Is there a lesson to be learned ?

4 comments:

Jin said...

I dunno about you lulu, but I still feel pretty safe here & the crime is nowhere's near as grisly or violent as what it is at home. Should Zuma get in to ANY position of real power, I think we'll be looking for another home base & that thought really saddens me.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Wow. A sobering description. I feel like things are less dire here in Morocco some ho

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