Last weekend, a video began to circulate on social media platforms, containing footage of an Ethiopian domestic worker in a Kuwaiti household hanging onto a window sill (from the seventh floor). The Ethiopian woman asked for help from her female employer, to no avail.
Aside from calling the worker “majnoona” (crazy) in the video, and continuing to film her domestic worker until she completely falls off the window sill, the female employer does absolutely nothing to help the worker. The worker sustained a broken leg, and several minor injuries, as a direct result of the fall.
Two narratives have been circulated social media over the weekend, regarding the events that led up to this incident. The first narrative held that the domestic worker was trying to commit suicide to escape her employer’s abuse, but suddenly had a change of heart, got scared, and asked for her employer’s help.
The second narrative held that domestic worker had been asked to clean the windows from outside, slipped, and asked for her employer’s help. No official statements have been released.
Over the weekend, this incident sparked outrage, especially on Twitter, with users tweeting several things pertaining to the incident under a hashtag that translates into #The_Fall_Of_The_EthiopianWoman.
Regardless of which narrative holds truth, the video clearly shows the worker desperately screaming, and asking for her employer’s help. It also clearly shows how the female employer took the worker’s screams as a cue for documenting how crazy her domestic worker is, rather than a cue for giving the worker a helping hand.
The mistreatment of domestic workers is a recorded, constant, and consistent phenomenon that has plagued the region for several years. Indeed, there seems to be a somewhat common social stance that holds that immigrant workers –especially domestic ones- are somehow sub-human, and deserve to be subjected to abuse.
What can equally and additionally be documented, is the lack of urgency and organized government-based initiatives to document and understand what truly motivates such violence towards these workers (racism may be a factor, but we will never truly know, if we do not strive to).
It really is one thing to treat this incident as an isolated crime, but it is a whole other thing to recognize that this incident belongs to a spectrum that, in its mildest forms, can involve the mistreatment of immigrant waiters at restaurants and, in its most extreme forms, can literally place the lives of immigrant workers at risk.