Friday, November 02, 2018

Blame the slave, not the master: Human Trafficking

The system in Kuwait is this:   Anyone working in Kuwait must be sponsored by a company (or individuals in the case of domestic helpers) to obtain a residency visa.  This system has led to human trafficking as some sponsors use their position to sell visas to those wanting to live/work in Kuwait (usually unskilled workers from poor countries).  When they arrive, there are no jobs for these people (and it would be very difficult to transfer their visa to another company even if they could find work).  So they end up as beggars or may even commit crimes just to live.  The "Kafala" (or sponsorship) system has been in place for many decades.  Usually, when there are stories like this in the media, it means that someone/somewhere has pointed a finger at human trafficking and some form of arrests are made.

Instead of dealing heavily with visa-trader sponsors, they are slapped on the wrist and are out on bail.  Meanwhile people from poor countries who bought the visas (albeit illegally) are being arrested for deportation (according to the article below).

Never-ending cycle:  2,900 individuals from poor countries will leave (after having paid enormous amounts of money - to traffickers - to try to make a better life for themselves and their families) and another several thousand will be brought in - likely by the same traffickers.  How can there be any end to this system if the people who are DOING the trafficking aren't dealt with seriously?  Where is the humanity in this?

And a Syrian "mastermind"?   Here is the reality:  You must be a Kuwaiti to own 51% majority in a company.  You must be a Kuwaiti to sponsor employees.  Everyone knows this.  It is the law.


Arrest ordered of 2,900 Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Egyptian expats in Kuwait
Arab Times - November 1, 2018
3 fictitious firms caught selling visas between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 1: In one of the most serious cases in Kuwait’s history over the past few years, related to trafficking in persons, security sources said the Ministry of the Interior has issued orders to arrest about 2,900 expatriates of different nationalities who were brought into the country by three fictitious companies to work on government contracts and abandoned them with no jobs, reports Al-Anba daily.

The daily added, over the past few days, the ministry has arrested about 90 persons who admitted to paying huge sums of money to these illusory companies to get the job to work in Kuwait.
The sources revealed that the prosecutor of Crimes of Human Trafficking summoned the owners of the three companies and released them on bail.

However, an unidentified Syrian who is believed to be the mastermind of the operation is behind bars. The daily quoting sources said it is he who enabled the three delusional companies to bring this huge number of workers and leave them without work.

With regard the details of the case, knowledgeable security sources said this was discovered when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs carried out a surprise inspection campaign in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and arrested a number of workers, whose residence permit was stamped in the name of companies which have government contracts. When they were asked why they did not report to work, they admitted that they have no jobs and that they were brought into the country on what they called ‘free visa’ and that they had paid huge sums of money get into the country.

The sources added when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs checked the files of these companies, it was discovered that the headquarters of the companies were in the Capital, Farwaniya and Ahmadi governorates and that these companies were dormant.

Another surprise was when the department discovered that the number of expatriates hired by the three companies was more than 3,000 and they were brought into the country to work on government jobs.

The sources added that the General Directorate of Residence Affairs, after informing the senior officials in the Ministry of Interior referred the case file to the Human Trafficking Prosecution.
The sources pointed out that the Human Trafficking Office has resumed hearing into the case and is recording the testimonies of the victims.

Some of them admitted to paying between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa. The sources indicated most of the expatriates are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt. The Pakistanis are said to have paid nearly KD 3,000 each person.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution has said everyone who is linked with the issue will be summoned for interrogation.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A man followed me in Kuwait. What should I do?


I saw a post on one of the expat women’s forums on Facebook.  I thought I should throw this out there for people either new to Kuwait or just not as informed as you may think you are.  

This is a discussion of the dangers (perceived or not) of men following you in the country.

The first time I came to Kuwait was in 1993.  I stayed with a Kuwaiti family and respected their traditions.  Because all the girls in the family wore hijab, I also wore one when we went outside.  We got followed by men in cars.  Why?  Because they wanted to give us their phone numbers.  When we pulled up at drive-up fast food restaurants (Happy Duck, back then), men in cars behind us paid for our meals.  Why?  Because they wanted to see if we would thank them and take their phone numbers to meet later.  The big thing back then was going to the Sultan Center in Salmiya - which was considered a pick-up place.  Guys and gals would troll the aisles looking for potential mates.  That first visit to Kuwait in 1993, my girlfriends brought me there and I couldn't understand why they were applying so much make-up to buy toothpaste...  (TSC later discontinued allowing single men to enter the store on the weekend nights.)  

As recently as 20 years ago, men and women in Kuwait didn't mix at all.  Many restaurants were segregated by "families" and "bachelors."  Kuwaiti marriages were, for the most part, arranged.  I have Kuwaiti female friends whose families didn't allow them to go out of the house without a male chaperone. And if a man and woman were “dating” – they were already engaged or had signed a marriage contract.  This tradition carries on with conservative families and is the norm in Saudi Arabia (where public dating is against the law). 

Note to the expat gal:  Foreign women weren’t necessarily regarded as “easy” (but in some cases, sure we were), but men knew they could more easily approach a foreign woman.  Also, 20 years ago, there weren’t as many foreign women in the country.  Unless you were butt-ugly or having a really bad hair day, chances are that you would be followed around.  

And just FYI – if you tell the man, “I’m sorry, but I’m married,“  it will mean nothing to him.  It means only that you are not a virgin.  Likewise if you are pregnant.

Kuwait had developed their own discreet dating language/culture. Like signals (a wink or a nod) to meet in front of the bathroom in restaurants to exchange numbers. A circular motion with the index finder in front of the lips meant, “I want to talk to you.”  A wink or a tap of a finger below the eye meant, “Ok.” Direct eye contact (stare) is a come-on.  Certain signals in cars mean different things: If you smile at a strange man in another car, it gave the “ok” to be followed (which is why many women in Kuwait look straight ahead at traffic signals).  Tilting the rear view mirror to one side (upward/downward) meant you were interested in someone in the car behind you.  Turn signals meant either “follow me” or even a few blinks either right or left meant you were interested in either the driver or the passenger.   Men left notes on women’s cars with their phone numbers.  Stick-it notes with phone numbers were balled up discreetly and handed to women.  A man following a woman around a store would be trying gain her interest, seeing if she would get close enough to him to take his number.  Kuwait’s dating language, not unlike other languages throughout time, is becoming extinct, although there are people who still use it.

I've lived alone in Kuwait 23 years and being approached, followed in my car, being slipped numbers on tiny pieces of paper, and discreetly talked to in stores and other public places by many men has taught me one thing: It's a historical/cultural dating system and I don’t fear it (only in several cases have I been afraid and that was being followed in a car.  In both instances, I reported it to the police.)   If a man is following you and you tell him to leave you alone or you’re not interested, 99% of the time, he will leave you alone.  For the tenacious 1%, you have the choice to scream and he will run away; or just take his number and throw it away.  I’ve also found that if it is a Kuwaiti man that is approaching you in a store, the store’s OCN security guards won’t be of much help to you.

Following a woman around isn’t right, but it is not particularly dangerous in Kuwait (unless your instinct tells you that it is).  Some of the die-hard old-school men (maybe 40s and above or from conservative/traditional families) still use the old dating system (probably those who have never used a computer chat room!).  Don’t freak out unless you have told them to go away or the man touches you (as even on your arm it is illegal in Kuwait) - or you feel you are in danger.

Change is good.  It's good that women in Kuwait are changing perceptions and laws regarding women's rights and mores of decency.  It is illegal for men to follow women in cars in Kuwait (called "eve-teasing") and punishable by 6 months in jail (you MUST report it to the police and unfortunately, that means going to a police station in person.  Call 112 for emergencies first.).  In the UAE, they publish full names and photos of offenders in the newspaper - regardless of their nationality or rank in society.   Stalking is serious, but sadly there are no anti-stalking laws in Kuwait (I had a friend who had someone follow her for months and the police couldn't do anything).  Being approached by a man in a store probably won't be taken seriously by police (perhaps just a report taken) but at least it gets the problem on the radar and adds to statistics.  More women need to report violations. 

I also hope that they will abolish Article 152; which states that a man can kill his wife if he catches her cheating. Yes, it is a current law.

And a word to the wise:  Follow the laws of the country where you live. Don't make your first violation into something that could put yourself in further problems.   Do not post the man's photo online.  While you may think you are warning others, you are placing yourself at risk.  This is in violation of the Kuwait Social Media Law, punishable by a 5000 KD fine, 6 months in jail, and if you are an expat; deportation. Further, if the man is from a large tribe, they may seek revenge for "shaming" the family by showing his photo. Why put yourself in further danger?  If you want to report someone suspicious, go immediately to the nearest police station or call 112.

Having stated all the above, if you as a woman ever feel like you are in danger: SCREAM and run for help.  Call 112 and report it at the nearest police station.  

The same applies in any country.

Disclaimer:  What's funny is when 20-somethings write to me and say that I'm insulting the "real Kuwait" or that I'm somehow slandering Kuwait.  My intent is never to slander Kuwait.  I wouldn't have fought for/lived/worked/bettered Kuwait for the past 2+ decades if that was my intent.  
Kuwait is not perfect.  No place is.  But good or bad - it is what it is.  This blog is written from MY PERSPECTIVE about my personal experiences.  If you don't like it, you don't have to read what I have to say.  No one is holding you hostage and forcing you to read.

Ethiopian maid tortured to death by her sponsor


KUWAIT CITY, Oct 30: 

An Ethiopian housemaid was beaten to death by her sponsor inside the latter’s house in Firdous area. According to security sources, Farwaniya securitymen had been conducting investigations over the death of a housemaid.

Autopsy had revealed traces of physical abuse on the corpse. During their investigations, securitymen discovered that the victim’s sponsor had beaten her to death because of the victim’s lack of concern for the cleanliness of the house.

After securitymen detained the suspect for investigations, the latter admitted to beating her housemaid but insisted that it was not premeditated. A case was registered against her and referred to the Public Prosecution.


--- end ---

How long is this culture of abuse against domestic workers going to continue?  Safa Al-Hashem:  Where are you and your outrage against expats when one of the expat community is tortured to death by a Kuwaiti sponsor?  Can’t these foreign domestic workers be replaced by Kuwaitis – just as you have suggested that Egyptian plumbers be replaced by Kuwaitis?  Perhaps only then will these horrendous acts of cruelty cease.


Alternatively:  Death for those who cause death.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Kuwait Government Documentation Service Company

My last post brought me to this post.  I've never heard of this company before, but their website says that they've been around since 2003. Maybe one of my readers will find this useful - especially since I get the, "Where do I go to.....?" questions all the time. (Drivers license renewal seems to top the list at the moment.) 




I don't know anything about their fees or anything more than I have posted here, but I like that they have all their services listed in English and in a simple manner.  If anyone uses them, please let me know so I can post your comments.

Great concept. I hope their service is good.  Wish I had known about them before.


Concierge Medicine - Coming Soon to a Doctor Near You?


Since Kuwait likes to get behind the trends of other countries, this may be something that will catch on sometime in the future.

The definition of “Concierge Medicine,” according to Wikipedia:

Concierge medicine (also known as retainer medicine) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. In exchange for the retainer, doctors provide enhanced care, including principally a commitment to limit patient loads to ensure adequate time and availability for each patient.

The practice has been referred to as concierge medicine, retainer medicine, membership medicine, cash-only practice, and direct care. While all "concierge" medicine practices share similarities, they vary widely in their structure, payment requirements, and form of operation. In particular, they differ in the level of service provided and the fee charged.

My mom is 86, retired and receives US government Medicare insurance.  Very few physicians in her area (near Washington, DC) will accept Medicare anymore.  (This is something to think about if you have elderly parents in the US.)    So, her alternative is finding a concierge physician.  She found one and the annual fee is around $2000.

In an article in Health Journal:

The concept of concierge medicine began in 1996, when a Seattle doctor decided to ask his patients to pay a flat fee—or retainer—in exchange for what he called “highly attentive medicine.” This allowed him to not have to rely on fees-for-service that were regulated by insurance companies.  (Full article HERE.)

The article goes on to say that the downside of concierge medicine is that it creates a two-tiered healthcare system for the haves and the have-nots; allowing membership only to those who can afford it.

This concept of membership is popular in Kuwait (health club memberships, auto-purchasing memberships, errand-running memberships, Kuwait official documentation servicing memberships, banking concierge memberships travel agency memberships), so I can see concierge medicine coming to Kuwait. 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Overdue Gratitude

Little disclaimer:  I'm big on gratitude.  I believe it is part of my spirituality.  If your grateful to people (animals, other living beings) you are showing gratitude to God.  So I do it as often as possible.

Yesterday, I was writing one of my scathing therapeutic letters to El Cajon that I will never send him.  In this one, I was saying that I hadn't written in a while and that I was feeling better now.  Ah, but The Universe must have heard me and threw in a monkey wrench.

Just as I finished writing the last sentence, El Cajon, came into my office and thanked me.  A lot.  He just hit a big target at work and was thanking me for helping him achieve success; that more money to him meant more ability to help part of his family that is struggling. "I wouldn't be able to have accomplished this without  you.  You did so much for me."....

I'm happy for him - and grateful for the appreciation - but....

'I don't know what to say you you.  I think of the right, the appropriate, the spot-on things I should have said to you not too long after you go away.  And then it is too late to say them.'  I just stare and smile.

So, he told me to just say, "You're welcome" and maybe send him an email later.  So, I did.

'I appreciate you taking the time to come to say thank you to me.  I'm happy that you are there when your family needs you.  But you weren't there for me when I needed you.'  That's all I could get out.  That's really all I wanted to get out without saying hurtful things that I would feel guilty for.

You weren't there for me.  That says it all.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Exiting expats impact economy – SPECIAL REPORT by The Kuwait Times



Exiting expats impact economy – SPECIAL REPORT
Kuwait Times
September 14, 218
As foreigners leave, services and real estate sectors slow

KUWAIT: “We sent our kids home today,” said Lissy Antony, fighting back tears that welled up in her eyes as she walked out of Kuwait International Airport’s departure area with her husband Antony Joseph. For Antony and his wife, parting with their young children Alan and Alena was a traumatic experience. And for their two children, aged 12 and 10, saying goodbye to the country they considered their home presented a psychological and emotional crisis.

As Kuwait introduces new rules and regulations as part of Kuwaitization, thousands of foreigners are either being laid off or restricted from taking up jobs in key sectors. While many expats are compelled to tighten their belts by resorting to the painful remedy of sending their children home, others are left with an even harder choice – leaving the country before things get worse.

While some are quitting Kuwait because they lost their jobs, others are doing it of their own volition in the face of a situation they call “beyond their control”. As the number of foreigners leaving the country rises, the impact has started to ripple through the economy, affecting sales in almost all retail segments – from automobiles and garments to food and beverages and household goods. “For decades, Kuwait remained an Eldorado for expats, especially for Asians. Not anymore. I think it is time we folded up,” said Riyas Ahamad, an Indian engineer working with an oil company in Ahmadi.
According to Expat Insider, Kuwait ranked last in a global poll about working abroad. Respondents reportedly considered a set of indicators including quality of life, ease of settling in and overall general satisfaction. Kuwait came 68th, a position it already held from 2014 to 2016, while it came second to last in 2017, the report said.

‘Lean and mean’

Large-scale retrenchments are taking place in the private sector too. As part of cost-cutting, private universities and schools are firing expats while organizations and hotels are easing out expat staff as part of their new strategy to become “lean and mean”. Many Asian schools admit, albeit secretly, that a large number of parents like Antony have opted to take transfer certificates of their wards to relocate them to their home countries amid radically “deteriorating financial conditions”. Several others are sending their families home as they find it hard to balance their monthly family budget.
“Be it the exorbitant fees for medical services, high petrol prices, new visa regulations or taxation moves, the tide is inexorably turning against expats,” said Alfred Williams, a lecturer at a private university in Kuwait.

“In most consumer segments, there is a palpable drop in sales. Usually there is a lull in sales during summer, but this time it has been slightly higher,” an executive at a supermarket said on condition of anonymity. However, he said no official estimates are available yet for the quarter.
According to a recent report by NBK, growth in its consumer spending index eased to 6.5 percent year-on-year in July. The consumption of durables was flat in July with growth easing to 7.3 percent year-on-year from 10.8 percent in June, as the sector continued to feel the impact of seasonally lower demand during the summer months. Sales of cars, furniture, and luxury items were weaker, while spending on electronics picked up, the report added.

Flats for rent

If the sudden spurt in ‘Flat for Rent’ hoardings across the country’s residential areas is any indication, one can assume that demand for apartments is in a fairly steep negative price trajectory. “During summertime, usually there will be a drop in demand for residential apartments. This is the time when expats normally seek a ToR (transfer of residence). But this year, we see an unusual trend. The number is surprisingly high,” said Anand Kumar, a supervisor at a real estate firm in Mahboula.
According to Al-Shall economic report, percentage of vacant buildings dropped slightly in the first half of the year, as per PACI figures, increasing to 11.2 percent. They numbered approximately 22,800 buildings out of a total of 203,800 buildings (23,400 vacant buildings, out of a total of 202,400 buildings in the end of 2017, i.e. 11.6 percent).

Hundreds of residential apartments in Kuwait are lying vacant currently amid declining demand and availability of newly-built apartments. Interestingly, apartment owners have begun to show more flexibility towards their customers, either to retain occupants or woo new tenants. In many residential areas like Abbassiya, Salmiya, Mangaf and Fahaheel, building owners have reduced rents to keep their properties occupied. As the rental market in Kuwait is oversupplied currently, rent declines in the country vary from roughly 2.5 percent up to 10 to 15 percent, according to some estimates.
“There were four flats vacant in our building two months ago. But today, there are eight flats vacant in the building,” said Yousef, a Pakistani taxi driver who stays near Don Bosco School in Salmiya.
Market experts are of the view that property owners and tenants may be in the process of converging on a new lower equilibrium price in tandem with building valuations and high vacancy rates for apartments – approximately 13 percent – according to the Real Estate Association. “We anticipate prices in this sector to stabilize only if the gap between demand and supply narrows. We don’t expect this to happen anytime soon because currently the market is oversupplied and the demand appears very weak,” said Fakruddin Ali, a real estate expert.

According to experts, building prices remain in negative territory. More than 75,000 flats in Kuwait are empty and need to be “absorbed” by the real estate market in four to five years, a recent study warned.

The balancing act

Kuwait has adopted a two-pronged strategy in the face of a volatile oil price scenario to reduce dependency on oil and balance the demography by slashing the burgeoning expat population in the country. According to UN estimates, Kuwait’s current population is 4,206,085 as of August 2018. Expatriates account for about 70 percent of the country’s population, with 1.1 million Arabs and 1.4 million Asians.

“For policymakers, it is a tightrope walk. No doubt we need to purge the illegal residents of the country and bring the number of expats down to a sustainable level. At the same time, expats are a critical component for the economic growth of the country and its sociocultural expansion. So the focus must be on the quality of the expat population while we adjust the demographics,” said Kareem Ibrahim, a professor at a private university in Kuwait.

By Sajeev K Peter

--- End ---

I read a story yesterday that there will be an anticipated 5 MILLION expats in Kuwait to complete the Silk City project.  So, this is (from my perspective) a typical Kuwait scenario.  Its cyclical.  Purge the country of expats (knowledge, experience) and replace with more expats that need to adjust to the country, take time for the learning curve - even at work as each country has its own unique work environment.  And all that only IF they decide to stay in Kuwait past a year.  Regardless of the pay, it isn't for everyone.  

Expats who have been in Kuwait for decades (the ones who are leaving now, by the way) are walking away with their knowledge of and loyalty to Kuwait.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

El Cajon - the Big Box Man

I haven't posted about personal stuff for a while and eeeeeverybody loves a good story, so here goes.  I didn't want to write about it before so I wouldn't jinx it.  I also had to put a little distance on this because it was still too raw to write about recent events.

I fell in love about a year and a half ago.   We moved in together. He cooked amazing breakfasts for me and took my dog for long walks.  We called each other constantly, sent text messages and little video clips.  We spent Saturdays in bed watching movies and eating popcorn.  He became (after a learning curve) amazing at doing things for me on special occasions like decorating on my birthday and Valentine's Day, flowers, cards, little surprise gifts.    It was long-distance at first which made it hard, but building blocks towards something bigger.  He was 100% loyal.  I never had to question him with other women or doubt my trust in him.  It was all very comfortable and natural and the kind of relationship most of us hope for.  But nothing is ever perfect in any relationship.

Sidebar:  I always struggle with pseudo names on the blog to keep the characters anonymous.  He's from a suburb of San Diego, so I'll call him, "El Cajon."  I didn't realize that the English translation of El Cajon is "big box" or "drawer".  Fascinating....  Maybe I should just call him "Big Box" since he's a big guy of 6'4".

The Dream:  I believe in the messages contained in dreams.  I rarely have dreams with this amount of clarity and emotion:   Several weeks before meeting him, I had a dream that I was in love with a very tall American man who worked at Camp Pendleton in California.  He was leaving to go back to California (to see his daughter) and said he would return as soon as he could.  He had a black dog named Sara that was always next to him.  Before he left, he gave me a necklace with 3 hearts; one was engraved with "happy birthday", the second with "Happy Valentine's Day" and the third was blank.  He walked away and I literally woke up sobbing and screaming, "Don't go!"  I also still felt completely in love with this dream man.   (Ironically, EC is very tall and worked at Camp Pendleton and is American.  He didn't used to like dogs, however, and to the best of my knowledge, doesn't have a daughter - who knows.  Overall - very accurate.)

I met him when his cousin brought him to my apartment.  He was visiting from San Diego and looking for a job - could I help?  Our eyes locked and we spent the next few hours talking like we had known each other for years.  I love those experiences; old souls, who you have only just met.  He was going back to San Diego after first going to visit his brother in Muscat and asked me if there was any way I could go there to see him for a few days.  I booked a room at the Al Husn at the Shangri La.  We had a 3-day honeymoon and that was it;  THE most romantic 3 days of my life:  Wine delivered to the room at sunset that we drank on the terrace. A private beach that we went to every day; ate hamburgers and had mojitos on the beach.  Hours just hanging out and talking.  (Followed by other romantic trips like taking a private jet to Turks & Caicos with my family - courtesy of my sister -  trips to Savannah and several to Virginia.)  (Although, notably, I was never invited to San Diego to meet his parents - yet we regularly spoke on the phone.)

I should explain that I know El Cajon's entire extended family in Kuwait.  I have known them for 2 decades.  His cousin, Hmood, has been like a brother to me over the years.  So, it made it easy to be with EC, already knowing a lot about him.  EC got to know - and become - part of my family.

Getting to know you....getting to know all about you....

EC has a quick temper and a stubborn streak (both unfortunate attributes that I also possess; Pisces and Aries; water and fire) and with any little argument, he would call, "drama" and want to bolt.  (I love the fact that he said, "You're too Arab.  You're full of drama.")  By drama - I'm not a runner, I try to work it out. Maybe not using the best communications skills I should, but at least I communicate.  But... I get it; that's the way people are now.  Instead of communicating like the adults (we supposedly) are, people choose just to leave.  There are no more real, lasting relationships because people (one or the other) just aren't willing to put in the effort.  People (usually men) these days just choose to hook up without a serious relationship (because that would entail work and perceived "drama").

By the way, my philosophy on ANYONE who says, "I hate drama" is usually the main perpetrator of drama.  That should be an immediate flag.

So whenever we had a problem, I would usually back down and be quiet (rather than being accused) and we would still have unresolved issues (which gee - is just what happens when you can't or won't communicate).  Little things snowball into big things, resentment builds up.

The few times we had problems that I openly discussed, he would get furious (and he's not a shouter or an arguer, but an inwardly-furious, smoldering, storm-brewing person).  You can tell by the evil looks, the head turns, and the passive-aggressive "punishment"; usually in days of silent protests or disappearing acts.  It happened a few times.  Ok, I understand the concept of "space" but say the words, "Can you give me a little while to process.  I need space... a break."  Be a man and just effing SAY it, don't disappear.  (Like last Christmas when he went to visit his family and didn't call me/pulled a disappearing act from Christmas Eve until several days after Christmas!  That's just mean.)

So when we had an argument that started with deodorant (did I just say "deodorant"?  Yes, I did), it ended with him saying that he was going to move out.  It wasn't just about deodorant.  I was in the process of closing on a house that I bought in the US and under a lot of pressure and asked him to help me with some stuff around the house.  He said he doesn't do housework and he "never goes in the living room, so why should I clean it?  I warned you.  I'm under a lot of stress!" (work-related apparently, not closing on a house).  It was one of the few times I pushed back instead of trying to placate the situation.  THREE days of silence later, when he's still in the apartment, I asked him if he was ok to cuddle again.  "No, I'm moving out at the end of the month."   I felt numb.   No one likes threats.  'Ok fine.  Why wait 2 weeks.  Leave now.'  So he did.... and proceeded to tell friends and my family (not me) that I had kicked him out and that he really wasn't going to move out permanently; he just needed space.

My sisterfriend said that living with me and my purchase of a house was maybe too much for him; and that perhaps he felt pressured/controlled/confined -  like I expected him to move into suburban life someday and become a husband.  That was not my intent.  Real estate has always been part of my plan with or without him. The house is for my (and my dog and cats) future.  And he's welcome to buy his own real estate.  I wasn't trying to box him in.  It was an investment!  MY investment.  EC was the one who asked to move in with me in the apartment.  But again, if he felt this way - or any other - he could have articulated it to me.  Use your words.

When I had the man-balls 2 week after he walked out to ask him to talk about things, he told me (gleefully with a sparkle in his eye - guess he wanted to retaliate some more)  that he "didn't know how to tell me" this, but he "wants to be just friends."  I suggested we maybe go talk to a therapist and work on our communication.  "No!  I like the way I am and I'm not going to change.  I know myself."  He ended the very emotional conversation (ok I was emotional) with, "Have a good night."  Have a good night?  How the phuck am I supposed to have a good night?  Or those to follow?

I love hard; I hurt hard.  I'm not going to apologize for it.  I am who I am.  I stay hurt for a long time.  

I usually don't want  to get involved in another relationship for a long time either.  I wasn't looking for him when he (quite literally) walked through my door.  I was content with my dog and K9 hobby lifestyle.  So, I'm going back to that.  Unfortunately, I have to see this guy every.day (except weekends).  Every day.  Why?  Because I found him a job - and close.  That makes it very difficult and emotionally-trying for me.  I've asked him to leave.  It has got to be humiliating for him.  But he won't.

I've tried to be "just friends" and put on a professional, business-like appearance, but that's not working for me. I'm not a hypocrite (read the poem I wrote in another post, "I can't be just your friend").  I don't have a poker face and I usually end up taking jabs whenever I can.  Then I feel guilty because that is unkind.

I don't want to believe that he got what he wanted out of our relationship and just put an end to it. That quite simply, he didn't/doesn't want me.  Was it all fake?  Was I being used?  I don't want to believe that all the help I gave him in lifting him up in his career (and his confidence) was for nothing.  Little things like regularly sending encouragement cards or gifts when he wanted to quit an go back to San Diego and messages; bigger things like financial assistance that was promised to be returned and never was (it isn't about the money, it is about the content of his character).  Now that he's doing VERY well and I needed his help, he walked out when he knew I needed him.

Those actions (not words in the air) resonated, making me question/doubt all that came before.  How can you just walk out in a day on someone you love?  How can you - in days and months to follow - look them in the eye and act like you never knew them romantically and shared that life?  That you're just some kind of business associate?

"You're too kind, you give to much."  I'm not going to apologized for it. I am who I am.  And unless you prove me wrong, I'm going to be kind to you.  

And I'm no angel and I'm not blaming him for everything, but for sure for how he "made a decision" (as he said)  to end it abruptly without trying.  Like we meant nothing and it wasn't worth it for him. He decided FOR me. For us.  For a future together.   I never cheated or lied or did any of that.  I was 100% loyal and he (and his family) could (and did) count on me for just about anything.  But, I'm also stubborn and have a firey temper (usually lasts in a hot flash and then disappears just as quickly).  Do I believe that I am worth fighting for? Hell yes.  No one is perfect.  No one has things they can't improve upon.  I just thought it would be together, so I felt (and feel) terribly betrayed.  It was the way he "decided" to do it.

I spent several months wishing we could work it out.  Trying my best.  Sending him messages that were never returned.  The only return he gave me was on business matters.  I know - I humiliated myself by sending him messages, and maybe I should have played some kind of a game, but I tried.  One returned, "I miss you too" would have made me happy.  I say that phrase to my real friends almost every day.   I've never ended a relationship with someone that I couldn't be friends with - or acted like he hated me or just ignored me.  I find it very uncomfortable and not-at-all necessary.  Especially since we run into each other on a daily basis.  Especially since our families know each other.

Dear, well-meaning, well-intentioned friends and family have told me, "move on" or "stop bringing up his name." Yes, I get it.  They mean well.  But hearing those words seems to diminish how I feel and how much it all meant to me and what I feel was done TO me.  It's grief.  It is mourning. The person I knew has died, replaced by someone I don't know.   We all deal with it in our own ways.   I read something recently that said, "the mind has been altered by the trauma where the person can't forget, and therefore can't let go - regardless of how much effort they put into trying. .... this spiritual/positive/inner peace stuff may be invalidating."  They have to deal with it.  And in my own way, I write about it.  Or write poetry about it.  Or bore my poor mother to distraction by talking about it.

And this to the small-minded/nothing-better-to-do blog haters out there... you are now going to send me anonymous mail saying, "I see you're with another fuckboy again...." or, "You keep picking losers" or "the wrong ones."   Bring it on, little bitches and pray that karma isn't watching you because it all comes around.  I am strong enough to handle anything your words can throw my way.

In my years of running this blog, I have realized/learned/been educated on the fact that everyone has problems (and if you have turned your energy into hate directed towards others - then you, my friends DO have a problem).  Most people are not vocal about relationship problems.  It's private.  Even fewer discuss their relationships publicly on the internet. (In private, I write him daily letters that I will never send.  I vent how I really feel about detailed, specific events with him and it is VERY therapeutic!)   It's unfortunate that I'm no longer blog-anonymous as I used to be, but I don't do this to hurt anyone (or gain anything other than the comfort of writing my own words) and I wouldn't write about it if I thought he would ever see this.  This is my therapy.  And perhaps it will make someone else feeling bad feel a little stronger knowing that we all have struggles together.

Everything is meant to be; good or bad.



Importing/Exporting a Pet (AKA family member) to/from Kuwait?



The lady who runs Cyrus Pettravel used to be a volunteer with KSPATH.  I remember working with her to help a dog in need years ago.  I wasn't aware of her pet travel service until I saw a post on Facebook recently.  PLEASE pass along her information to people who either want to bring their pet to Kuwait or ship them home (or even help a rescue or two to get out).  

NEVER leave a family member behind.  They don't recover; they suffer.

Friday, September 07, 2018

I can't just be your friend


If you really love someone, you don't leave.



I can’t just be your friend
As much as I miss being your friend,
and your love and the person you spent your time with.
The person you could share your problems with.
The person who knew you best;  and now not much at all.

I can’t just be your friend
Because part of me now hates you
For the betrayal I felt (and still feel) when you left
As if I was nothing
As if we meant nothing.
I can’t be a hypocrite and pretend.

I can’t just be your friend
Even though I wish you the best
And watch your life evolving
Knowing that I helped you achieve your goals
And now you are soaring in a different direction without me.

I can’t just be your friend
As we are in a pretend friendship.
Not really being friends like we used to be.
We are now in a mode of suspended animation.
Stating pleasantries and smiling.

I can’t just be your friend.
As our families are our friends separately.
Because we are now just acquaintances.

I can’t just be your friend.
Because you died the day you left me.
The you I knew walked out the door and never returned.
I don’t know this person to be friends with him.
My friend is gone and nothing and no one can bring him back.
The man I knew never would have stopped being my friend.

Friday, July 20, 2018

$1.8 billion bad debts for laid off expatriates

AKA "Shooting yourself in the foot."

Ok sorry, but I have to giggle....  Once again its a matter of lack of planning.  Rather than a slow, calculated transition to Kuwaitization, they decide to fire thousands of foreign workers effective immediately.  And gee - guess what happened? 


$1.8 billion bad debts for laid off expatriates
Arab Times 7/20/18

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s efforts to create more jobs for nationals by releasing foreigners working in the public sector has created a problem when thousands of laid off expatriates became unable to fulfill their financial obligations towards local banks.

Recent Central Bank of Kuwait data shows the total bad debts for expatriates during the past four year reached $1.8 billion, a sizable portion of which comprise the debts of foreigners who were laid off by the government, according to sources. Eighty five percent of those debts are owed to local banks, while the remaining 15 percent are owed to financial facilities companies.

The number of expatriate employees in state departments dropped by 70 percent in the past six months, according to official statistics released by the Central Statistical Bureau and Civil Service Commission, thanks in principle to the government’s ‘replacement policy’ that targets the complete ‘Kuwaitization’ of the public sector’s manpower by 2022. The number of expats in the public sector dropped to 80,000, compared to around 340,000 Kuwaiti employees as of the end of June.


--- End ---

My thoughts:
Perhaps the Government should forgive the loans?
Aren't the lender companies (owned by Kuwaitis) pissed off?
Aren't the real estate companies (owned by Kuwaitis) pissed off?
The only businesses I can see making money off these mass terminations are travel agencies and relocation/shipping services (which are a 1-shot revenue source); rather than prolonged addition to the economy like loans might be.
I thought there were one or two economists in parliament.... hmmmm......Didn't see this one coming.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Public Adverts for Humans for Sale in Kuwait

This is sick.  When will it stop?  I have actually seen EXPAT forums with EXPATS talking about how much they would pay for a maid.  (As in buying from their sponsor.)  Disgusting.  How can you not find this offensive?   How do you rationalize slavery??  Well, in these sick-o's minds it goes like this, "Well, they were doing better than they would be in their home country...."  Ick.  (Following this logic:  Perhaps your daughter would do better being sold to someone than she would in your home country working in a fast food restaurant, no?


Arab Times
9 July 2018  (not 1818....but 2018...)


Rights groups sound alarm over domestic workers for sale Advertisements

Such practices will affect Kuwait’s global reputation: Bouqreis
(DG:  Ya think???)
KUWAIT CITY, July 8: Widespread advertisements in electronic applications explicitly saying “Domestic Workers for Sale” are among the individual practices rearing heads to distort and block Kuwait’s efforts in fighting human trafficking in the face of confident steps taken to preserve its white dress in this regard, reports Al-Rai daily.

Human rights groups in Kuwait have sounded the alarm, cautioning against complacency with declarations of this nature that waste the effort to preserve Kuwait’s international image in terms of human rights. While noting that Kuwait did not ratify the Migrant Workers Convention, its officials considered the imbalance was not due to the absence of laws but leniency in its application.
In this context, Khaled Al-Humaidi President of Kuwait Society for Human Rights affirmed that “sale and purchase of workers and offering them as a commodity via social media is considered trafficking in humans with full integrated elements and cannot be seen in any other angle.”
He stressed that human trafficking operations are in fact a very serious and cruel crime that humiliates and denigrates the human soul by treating them as a commodity instead of a person. “This is a flagrant violation and exploitation of human rights — especially for women working in the domestic sector, he added, saying serious crime is perpetrated against the individual who loses his or her humanity and entity and freedom in deciding the place of work when they are exploited either for material gain or other purposes in cases where they are made to move to another place of work through coercion.”

Monitored

Al-Humaidi concluded that Kuwaiti Society for Human Rights have monitored a large number of cases of human trafficking on social networks and service sites, and “in response to this dilemma, we call upon the concerned authorities to act and arrest traffickers and hold them accountable without complacency, in recognition of the obligations of the State of Kuwait to promote human rights and the fight against trafficking in humans”.

Secretary General of the National Association for Family Security Dr Mariam Al-Shammari had a different opinion. She defined human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receiving of persons by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion such as abduction, fraud, abuse of power or exploitation of a situation of vulnerability.

She classified human trafficking into three main groups; trafficking for forced labor, sexual exploitation or trafficking in human organs. According to this definition, advertisements for the sale of domestic workers in Kuwait are not considered a real and practical type of trafficking in humans; rather, it’s a mistake in the use of the term (which was circulated unconsciously or unaware of the dimensions of its use or the abuse it represents).

For certain reasons, a family may wish to do away with the services of a domestic worker or driver, while the other party also wishes to remain in the State of Kuwait for work. National Association for Family Security rejects this type of advertisement because it imposes suspicion and envisages domestic worker as a commodity that can be sold or exchanged. She pointed out that “the State of Kuwait, its humanitarian leader, government institutions, and civil society organizations rejects everything that touches human dignity and fights human trafficking.”

“Yes, we have noticed the presence of advertisements for the sale of servants and resignation of servants on social media. It is a mistake using the term for transfer of services, because it is contrary to Kuwaiti and international labor laws,” statement said, noting “it affects the reputation of Kuwait, so we must prevent its spread and correct the misconceptions about the way domestic workers move from one house to another to prevent the use of the term housemaid to housekeeper.” It’s the duty of the government to prevent and criminalize advertisements that harm the State of Kuwait.
It is also necessary to conduct an extensive information campaign to introduce the rights of the parties to the contract, such as working hours, leave and end of service benefits. It should also include penalties in case of violation to guarantee the rights of both parties, while protecting the right of the employer to prevent him from falling into trouble in the wake of the ignorance of labor law, and to prevent exploitation of employers and domestic worker by some service offices

Human
Hadeel Bouqreis — proprietor of a school for human rights said what is happening in Kuwait, as regards the sale and purchase of domestic workers under the eyes and ears of government institutions and civil society organizations, is called trafficking in human beings in a situation where a person is sold from one family to another in a trend resembling the revival of slave trade era.
It amounts to deprivation of rights of domestic workers, which also contributes to promoting the concept of trafficking in humans. She added, “Certainly such practices will affect Kuwait’s global reputation in the field of rights, because when you translate the vocabulary of the advertisement it shows the reader that what is happening is a form of sale, and these words unfortunately are sometimes circulated as “I bought a worker”. All this makes us confirm the translation of those ads indicates “human trafficking operation”.

She continued “Kuwait is one of the countries that did not ratify the Migrant Workers Agreement, and there are companies trading in workers who pay huge sums to come to Kuwait. We have seen the UAE human rights committees addressing violations in employment contracts, while we have in Kuwait a number of problems unresolved so far. The new domestic labor law is not applied and there’s no monitoring mechanism to follow up these laws.



--- end ---

So, why isn't someone meeting with these "sellers" and making deals, then arresting the offenders? Ironically, if you posted an ad saying you were selling yourself for sex on the internet (aka prostitution),  you'd have a bunch of law enforcers on your doorstep in a heartbeat....  aint that a thang?  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I hear my neighbor being beaten by her husband every night. What should I do?

(Photo Credit:  The Telegraph The King Khalid Foundation domestic abuse advert slogan simply reads:
'Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together' )


I was on Facebook recently and saw a post in Kuwait (similar to others I have seen in the past) saying something to the affect of, "I hear my neighbor screaming at night.   Many nights.  I know her husband is beating her.  I can hear the children crying.  What should I do?"

My knee-jerk reaction is, ' Call the police, dumbass.'

What shocked me were many of the comments - by WOMEN.  Often advising not to call the police because it would "make trouble."  Fellow women.  Sisters.  Women who might be in the same or similar circumstances someday in their lives who need help.  Woman-the-f-up and do the right thing!

When are people's attitudes going to change?  Especially women's?!

Someone is screaming.  There are children involved.  If it sounds like a beat-down, it's a beat-down.  Call the effing police.

One comment (again by a woman and similar to quite a few others on the post) advised the poster to bake the woman a cake and try to befriend her.  Bake her a cake.  (Allow me to let that sink in.)  Bake her a cake.  Effing ARCHAIC!  Are we in 1940?  You can bake her a cake after the police haul her husband off.  You'll have plenty of time to chit-chat and have cake and tea while her bruises fade and her children get psychological assistance.


I know there are female lawyers and groups willing to help women in Kuwait with domestic violence emergencies, but I personally don't know the emergency numbers (and I'm super-nosy and keep records of this information, so obviously it isn't being publicized enough if it is out there).  Can anyone send me the contact information so when I see these awful posts, I can advise?