What happens to domestic helps in Kuwait?

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Kuwait, one of the Arab nations ruled by autocratic monarchism has prostitutes [sex workers] from many nations, such as the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, China, Sri Lanka Uzbeskistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, East European countries, America, and even Kuwait. Sadly enough, some of the perverts oil-rich Sheikhs in Kuwait continue buying “sex dolls” from the Philippines [code name of women who are brought into harems of the sheikhs with false excuse of job as domestic help] and these “sex dolls” are allowed to be used to meet sexual desire of the employer and his sons. In most cases, female members of the Kuwaiti families allow their husbands or sons in having sexual pleasure “at home” with the foreign “sex dolls” as they fear, if their men and boys are allowed to go outside for having sex, they may get contacted to sexually transmitted diseases. It is rather common for oil-rich sheikhs in Kuwait of having one or multiple number of “sex dolls” at home. Though Kuwaiti women are increasingly coming out of homes and participating in prestigious works such as judges, bankers, doctors, engineers, journalists, nurses etc, a large proportion of the female population of Kuwait still remain either uneducated or half-educated, who also are heavily influenced by religious old-dated thoughts of letting their men have sex with other women, if those women are “bought as slaves”. A huge section of Kuwaiti women even believe that, letting their husbands or sons to have sex with “sex slaves” or “sex dolls” brought from the Philippines or other nations are no sin. Many even justify such activities to be “sacred and permissible” under Sharia laws.

In recent years, prostitutes from China, age ranging between 30-40 are flocking in Kuwait, most of whom come to this oil-rich Arab country, with the dream of becoming “millionaire” in exchange of selling body. Most of these Chinese women are either divorcees or widows, some of them with children. As to the divorcees, they particularly are rather forced to enter into prostitution as China does not have any law that requires payment of alimony or even child support. The husband leaves to live with another, younger woman, and the single mother is faced with the ominous task of raising her child by herself.

These women were all unemployed at the time they decided to come to Kuwait, and their parents are already dead or are also living in dire poverty. They hear about the prospect of making good money in places like Kuwait, Bahrain, or other Gulf states, and they see a way of paying the cost of raising their child in China. The women sell everything they have, including their home and furnishings, which allows them to scrape up enough money to buy a plane ticket to Guangzhou where they wait in a “halfway” house for their work visa for Kuwait or elsewhere. While in the halfway house, those who do not have enough money for their visa and airfare to the Gulf earn money in Guangzhou by becoming mostly, street prostitutes. This money is not as good as they expect to make in Kuwait. They also need to pay for their stay in the halfway house, which is not cheap. While there, they also watch “training films,” which is nothing but, pornographic movies. Most of the women have never seen pornography, as it is illegal in China, and most have never seen or experienced much of what they have seen in the films. Many are surprised and scared, but they cannot change their mind. They have already committed; they have already sold all of their worldly possessions and their child is expecting that he or she will finally have what he needs.

The work visa is usually arranged between a “house boss” in Kuwait and an unscrupulous visa trader, a person who has a shell company who “hires” workers from overseas. The cost of the visa was about 250 Kuwaiti Dinars, or roughly US$875, most of which goes into the pockets of the visa trader and the house boss. Recently, however, the Kuwait government imposed at 250 dinar deposit for all foreign workers, so the cost has doubled to US$1750. This is for a 30-day visa. A 90-day visa will cost 900 dinars, or about US$3,150.

After they arrive in Kuwait, these new workers must pay 150 dinars [US$525] every month to their house boss, as well as 250 dinars each month for a 30-day extension of their 30-day visa, which is the most common option due to the lack of funds of arriving workers. After awhile, they can convert their visa to a two-year residency for 2,500 dinars, or US$8,750. They still must pay their house boss 150 dinars every month. This gives them a shared room with two or three other workers. Being in Kuwait, the Chinese women are shown the ropes by an experienced worker, one who has been here for awhile, who will introduce the new workers to clients for a split of the fee. This relationship only lasts until the new worker establishes her own clientele. They all work outside and conduct their business on a “call” basis and are very careful about whom they do business. They will not go with anybody until there has been an introduction. Being arrested means a mandatory six-month jail sentence for immoral conduct and deportation. Every month, after the house boss and the visa renewal is paid, the workers go to the post office, exchange most of their money for Renminbi [Chinese currency], and send to China. This money will be used to pay for the basic needs of their children, their education, and, if they have a son, for his first house, which he will need in order to get married. Though in recent years, the Kuwaiti administration has toughened the visa issuance to Chinese women in particular, there still are hundreds of Chinese prostitutes in Kuwait, who are continuing this illicit trade under numerous covers.

There also are large numbers of sex workers in Kuwait, who mostly come from the East-European countries as well as countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan etc.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a multi award winning anti militancy journalist and editor of Blitz. To reach him: Facebook

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