I haven’t been back on this blogging thing for too long but anyone that has been taking the time to read, which I really do appreciate by the way, will know that I try to lean towards a comedic style of writing. Well, I’m not going to try to be too funny this time around and I wasn’t planning on posting anything on this subject until Tuesday afternoon when I read about the subject in question.
Whilst on my lunch break at the office I began reading a post on Facebook that a friend from university had shared from Humans of New York’s page about the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Lahore, Pakistan and its elected General Secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima. Technically, bonded labour is as illegal in Pakistan as it is in most other parts of the world but unfortunately, like many other parts of the world, it is still very much alive, go figure. This is particularly true in brick kilns and conservative estimates suggest that around 1 million people are working in them across Pakistan under bonded labour conditions; conservative meaning the number is likely higher.
The aim of the organisation that Fatima runs with her husband is to establish a number of centres across the country where victims can go for protection, legal advice and counsel. Unfortunately and like most sick people in the world with far too much money and influence than can ever be considered constructive the people running these hell-holes have a lot of power. As a result police investigations are usually blocked with a few rupees in the right hands, victims are beaten, raped and threatened with the safety of their families and even Fatima has been shot, electrocuted and threatened by the charming ladies and gentleman mentioned above.
This is not a knock at police or law enforcement in Pakistan. I don’t doubt for a second that most of the men and women involved on the ground level do their best and are as appalled as everyone from the outside looking in but unfortunately it’s the fat-cats on top that hold the power like anywhere else. It’s also not a knock at Pakistan as a country or the people in it. As anyone with any sense will tell you; people are individuals and good and bad exist in every country on the planet. Though unfortunately stories of Pakistani youths helping old ladies across the street with their shopping and other good tidings generally don’t make great news for the Daily Mail, hence why it’s usually terrorism, oppression and gangs in Karachi that make the headlines.
Fatima’s story does though and this story hit me harder than a right hook from Anthony Joshua. Fatima is a proud holder of a Masters in Political Science from Punjab University meaning that she could easily have taken a safer career route after her studies and probably made herself a nice little nest-egg out of it. She chose not to though and although it may be a pebble in the ocean her organisation has so far helped to release over 80,000 victims and has trained over 600 women in key skills aimed at poverty reduction.
Now I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, like I said I found out about Fatima’s organisation this week, but she’s one lady that gets my respect. Trying to defend people and improve lives through any means and in any environment takes a lot of courage but to do it in one where the object of oppression wields such aggressive powers and in a country where women are not always blessed with the best platforms for personal expression, again a knock at its political system and not its people as individuals, is uncomprehend able.
Bonded/slave labour is not a problem to do with religion, demographics or geography and it’s certainly not exclusive to Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Russia, The UAE or any of the other places our media likes to vilify. It’s a problem bred out of the fact that if given the means to do so some people will outright take the piss and human rights can quickly go out the window. The fact that even in little Wales (my home country) a group of southern land owners were busted quite recently for kidnapping and forced labour is testament to this as well as other examples all across the world, look it up if you don’t believe me.
Bottom line; what the Bonded Labour Liberation Front of Pakistan is trying to do is incredible and touched my heart, something that’s not always easy to do might I add. While reading the story in question it truly amazed me how in just one article something you read can make you completely despise humanity and then a few lines later fall in love with it all over again.
My readership, although greatly appreciated, is pretty small but if even one person reads this, follows the link below, shares it, donates or fancies supporting this cause or any of its many other equivalents in other parts of the world in any way then posting it was time well spent. Issues like bonded labour can only be destroyed with worldwide awareness and support.
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.