Friday, July 01, 2005

Child jockeys relive Dubai ordeal :: BBC

QUOTE\ The boys were evidently traumatised by the abject conditions under which they were kept by the camel and racetrack owners. The boys were crowded into huts and slept on hard floors. "I shared a room with another boy and four camel workers," says Shaukat. "It used to be very, very hot." At 10, he has already spent eight years in Abu Dhabi.

Shaukat recalls getting only a piece of bread and tea for breakfast and some rice with lentils for the rest of the day. "I slept at 2300 and woke up for work at 0400," he says. "My life was OK but I felt very tired all the time." Insufficient food and a lack of sleep was a common strategy used to keep the jockeys' weight down.
. . .
Yaqub pointed to another boy who looked about eight years old. He had a broken arm that had obviously healed badly in the absence of proper medical attention.

Injured child jockeys were seldom taken to hospitals because that could bring the illegal nature of their employment to light.
. . .
In most cases, he says, parents sell their children to "agents" who promise jobs for the children but end up selling them to camel racers. At times, the agent's cut is a mere $500. Back in Pakistan, the child's parents get 250 to 500 dirhams ($68-$136) a month for as long as the child is of any use to the employer.

"It is not always poverty that forces parents to send their children away," says Mr Shad. "Sometimes, it is sheer greed." Shaukat says his father accompanied him and his brother to the Gulf and left them there. But Mr Shad says in many instances these "parents" are actually foster parents who adopted the children - preferably at a very young age.
. . .
But Mr Shad admits that the authorities are not yet clear if they want to hand these children over to the parents who sent them away in the first place. Their main fear is that many of them may end up being pushed into some kind of hazardous employment again.

Asked if he would like to go back to Dubai, Yaqub smiles. "I will go back when I am older. The laws have become too strict now. You have to be 16 years of age and weigh at least 45 kg," he says. "This means that instead of losing weight, I now have to gain some if I am to go back." /UNQUOTE



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a small point of clarification. The BBC article at no point refers to "Dubai ordeal". In fact the only point of reference with respect to place where these children were based is when it mentions that one of the children spent 8 years in Abu Dhabi. The article titel refers to "Gulf Ordeal" which is very different from "Dubai Ordeal"! Such misrepresentation is not befitting of your blog.

3:31 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

The article speaks for itself. I could have used Abu Dhabi in my title as well. It is true that the BBC used Gulf in its title and not Dubai. But the article was about young camel jockeys in the UAE.

The UAE has vigorously acted now to put an end to this practice. But the past does serve as a useful reminder.

5:15 PM  

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