The latest news regarding the arrest of Indian Acting Consul Devyani Khobragade in New York for visa fraud concerning her maid is one of the hottest scandals of the hour. Reports of a strip search of Khobragade leading to the removal of security barriers of the U.S. embassy in India are all amounting to some major hostility between the two nations.
While details are still coming out from all sides around this case, the incident points to a greater issue of unfair labor practices, forced labor, and well, classism. Khobragade was allegedly paying her maid $3.31 hour, legally below the mandated minimum wage. While this case is certainly high-profile, so many other cases are currently or have fallen between the cracks, where laborers and helpers from other countries might be facing the same or worse.
In other cases, victims of unfair labor practices might be threatened with abuse, deportation, abuse to family members, and more. The lines get a little more blurry when there are language and cultural barriers in front of victim(s). A World Health Organization report states, “Economic exploitation is widespread. Trafficked people rarely have decision-making power over what they earn and may be charged by traffickers for services and supplies such as housing, clothes, food or transport.” Tragically, women end up being the most disenfranchised in these situations.
Economic exploitation has been the marker of global suffering. A little bit of conscience and whole lot of awareness will hopefully lead to some sort of justice for those suffering all over the world. Forums like AltMuslimah that discuss gender, empowerment, and advocacy of issues related to women are just as deserving of a discussion related to worldwide economic justice.
Shazia K. Farook is the Social Media Editor at AltMuslimah