Bide Majakoti knows the horror of forced labor in Qatar first-hand. He travelled from Nepal on the promise of a well-paid job and paid high recruitment fees to secure it. When he arrived he was forced to accept a different job and his nightmare began.
Unfortunately, as construction for the football World Cup 2022 intensifies, more migrant workers will be vulnerable to forced labor than ever before.
Over 90% of Qatar’s workforce are migrant workers, brought to the country under kafala, the ‘sponsorship’ system.1 It is a foreign worker sponsorship programme that jeopardises basic human rights of migrant workers, allowing slavery-like conditions to flourish leaving thousands vulnerable to forced labor and other human rights abuses.
Bide was forced to work in the blistering heat without safety precautions or pay. With no other option open to him, he returned home saddled with debt. While Bide ultimately returned home to tell his story, thousands of others never get that chance.
Many others’ experiences are even worse; workers often have their wages withheld, are denied exit visas, are housed in dirty, unsafe conditions and forced to work long hours with little rest despite the high heat.2
Right now we have an opportunity to help. The Minister of Labor made promises to make substantial reform to the kafala system, ensuring the protection of migrant workers.3 Now, the deadline for these reforms has passed.
We’ve seen significant improvements to the kafala system in Bahrain, Kuwait and other neighboring countries. Now it’s time for Qatar to safeguard its migrant workers.
Call on the Minister of Labor to deliver on critical reforms he promised and end the forced labor in Qatar.
Watch ‘Undercover film of life inside Qatar’s labor camps’ by Equal Times