Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scum of our times

This article in the SST prompted me to write this as a minor contribution towards associating the name Southern Storm Fishing with slave labour. 

Not long after I arrived in Kuwait in 2003, I came across an ad in the local English-language newspaper featuring a photo of a Filipina domestic servant and some text offering a reward for information regarding her whereabouts. Her owner- sorry, employer - was offering the reward because she'd left his property two days previously "without permission" and hadn't returned.  Given that she'd have no money, no passport (her employer would have that) no work permit and wouldn't have had an opportunity to meet anyone in Kuwait outside her employers' household and his agent, you can only wonder at the working conditions that drove her to make a run for it - her prospects as a female illegal immigrant in Kuwait amounted to a future as a cheap hooker for the Third Worlders hired to build stuff for the Kuwaitis (and it really doesn't get any cheaper than that, except maybe in Bangladesh).

How chuffed I was to be a citizen of a country where you needn't expect to find such shameful indictments of your country's labour practices in the local newspaper.  And how fucking naive and just plain wrong I was about that. Here's a choice sample from the Otago Daily Times, which cheerfully admits not only to having run the ad but also to failing to find anything particularly objectionable about it.  The SST reports the ad to have been placed by our very own modern slavers, Southern Storm Fishing.  It was such a brilliant idea it's even been noticed by the US State Dept:

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