The two top stories in the news agenda have encouraged me to write about my experience and research into those two aspects, these comments are entirely my own. I was in Cairo during the protests against Mubarak and subsequently wrote my final year dissertation on child domestic workers in Egypt.
Egyptian Arab Spring and Modern Day Slavery
In 2011, both modern day situations were foreign to me but I found myself immersed in their dialogue and urged to participate in varying ways. I barely knew Mubarak but after 3 weeks of being in the country my passion for his removal grew. I witnessed abject poverty and wondered how a growing economy could have such destitution. So much so, families would send their little girls (usually) to work as child domestic workers. I did my semester abroad at the American University of Cairo where the wealthiest send their children for tertiary education. I carried out a survey and a sizeable number of participants either had, knew someone who had a child domestic worker. Their little hands indentured in labour difficult for a person much older at the expense of their education. I visited a centre for street children and they all could not understand English but could understand the value an of an education. Their rights trampled on for the sake of survival, many children (more than anyone can count) are clandestine victims of a poor social system.
I had a dissertation to write because of Mubarak’s actions, or lack thereof. I heard many heart-wrenching stories about little girls facing exploitation and sexual abuse because it was ingrained in Egypt’s formal institution that it was lawful to allow children to work. It was the government’s fault why children found themselves in this situation so the government had to go. People were frustrated so they took to the streets, some lost their lives fighting what they believed in. Massacred for starting a movement in favour of the removal of injustice. Those were lost in vain, Egyptian Judicial system has shown that injustice remains. So for those who still have strength to unite in Tahrir Square will fight once more, in a country where dying for justice holds no weight and perpertrators can be released with blood on their hands and not be held accountable.
The UK and Modern Day Slavery
I used “I am Slave” for my dissertation because it portrayed what modern day slavery in societies such as Britain would look like. It was reported today by the home office that it is more common than expected. I have heard stories of Zimbabweans who have had their passports seized and forced to work in terrible constraining conditions. This problem is not unique to the African context but is widespread. This revelation has been met with backlash at David Cameron’s plans to being stringent to European immigrants. Anti-slavery charities have warned that such measures will result in an increase of slavery.
Like the Egyptian context, will there be a revolt of the Government and its stringent measures causing the common man to struggle to such lengths? Food banks are on the increase, child services have failed to protect their beneficiaries and poverty has become rife in modern day Britain. Charities that predominantly focussed on Third world development have reverted back to grass roots programmes to improve the quality of life of British children. The system has failed to protect the most vulnerable.
Many have called for #CameronMustGo which is slogan that was trending on Twitter. 575 683 tweets in the last 30 days stated many reasons and expressed various frustrations, frankly people have had enough of the current government’s aloof attitude to those who are finding it difficult to make ends meet on a day to day.
So should people just sit back while children with mental health issues fail to receive appropriate assistance? Is it acceptable to watch more & more programmes about child carers and children who live in poverty? I say a protests in Trafalgar Square are in order. For the nation’s children, for the Nation’s poor, for the failing system, for justice.