Notice anything wrong with the image above? It shows a visibly sad woman cleaning the dishes. Look closely, and you will notice her foot is in chains.
Looks like a case of a mad husband who keeps his domesticated wife leashed? Think again. Now check out the complete image below.
The chains actually leads to another woman happily chit-chatting away on the phone in her living room while the keys to the leash dangling in her hands.
The image above has not been created by a human rights group highlighting the pitiful state of domestic workers. It’s the official photo for a name-and-shame Instagram account created in Kuwait to track down “runaway maids.”
Instagram account http://t.co/LkzYUeEbOx refers to maids and drivers as being "owned" by their employers. I thought slavery was abolished?— Yara O. Al Wazir (@YaraWazir) June 18, 2014
Looks like modern slavery to a regular eye, and as bad as that is, the account also shows how the employers of these domestic workers are inherently very racist.
There are 600,000 domestic workers in Kuwait, with foreigners making up the vast majority of Kuwait's private workforce. As in other Gulf countries, the “kafala” system ties the domestic workers down to the employers issuing their work visas such that they can face criminal charges for running away.
“Mn7asha,” loosely translating into “runaway,” was described by its owner as an effort to “together put an end to this phenomenon."
The account’s supporters referred to workers by their nationality, their “she-man” facial features, or the date they had run away, rarely using the workers’ names.
Racism taken to next level in Arab countries: an Instagram account was set up in #Kuwait where ppl send photos of housekeepers who ran away.— Malak Jaafar (@malakyz) June 19, 2014
Social media might make it easier for people to share their common phobias and promote slavery and racism, but at the same time it is thanks to social media we now know racism and power abuse are incredibly widespread. Modern day slavery has taken newer forms and that’s why we need to move beyond the click and move on culture and try instead to raise awareness of what’s still happening and wrong in the world.