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Monday, March 28, 2011

Worker Beware: A Cautionary Tale Of One Brave Migrant Worker

  In 2008, Alicia Gali was working at a resort hotel in Farujah, United Arab Emirates when she reported to police that she had been drugged and raped by three coworkers.
  She was part of a group of foreigners working at the luxury Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort. The hotel encouraged staff members to consume alcohol in the staff bar, where it is alleged that the environment provided easy opportunities for female staff members to be drugged.

  And if the ordeal itself wasn't enough, the victim was arrested for adultery, because premarital sex in the UAE is a serious crime. The Australian national served 9 months of a one year sentenced and was booted out of the country. Now Ms. Gali is suing the hotel, as she was hired in Queensland, Australia. The suit alleges that even the most basic working conditions, such as segregating male and female quarters, were not applied in any way.

As for the victim, she justifiably feels doubly punished for buying into the idea that the UAE is what it portrays itself to be on postcards. She thought that being in the employ of a major hotel chain, an internationally held company, that she would be safe. When she was arrested for daring to witness to a most vile crime committed against her person and spirit, the famous multinational said absolutely nothing. When you work in the United Arab Emirates you are never safe, and Alicia Gali found out just how evil that men as well as a corporation can be.

  While it is certainly my hope that Alicia Gali is compensated, one needs to heed this warning: The United Arab Emirates may have glitter and their royalty, but they have no regard for women's rights or migrant worker's rights. It is a collective of micro-kingdoms that still adhere to draconian moral codes that only apply to certain classes. Every time you choose Dubai, Farjah, or Abu Dhabi as a get-away destination, you are consenting to the dehumanization of women like Ms. Gali and so many more. And don't even think of working in the UAE regardless of the salary. Theocracies only change when their money train grinds to a halt, and we are the brakemen.

Be well

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