In a high-rise apartment, seven stories above Kuwait City traffic, not a smudge in sight on the window. On the other side of the glass, a maid is hanging on by one knuckle, screaming, begging for her life.“Oh crazy, come here,” a woman says casually in Arabic, holding a camera up to the maid.
“Hold on to me! Hold on to me!” the maid yells.
Instead, the woman steps back. The maid’s grip finally slips, and she lands in a cloud of dust, many stories below.
The maid — an Ethiopian who had been working in the country for several years, according to the Kuwait Times — survived the fall. The videographer, her employer, was arrested last week on a charge of failing to help the worker.
It’s still unclear what led to the fall. But it was not the first time a domestic servant had fallen off of a building in Kuwait, an oil-rich country where foreign workers are cheap, plentiful and live largely at the mercy of their employers.
Human Rights Watch has spent years documenting cases of workers abused, exploited, attacked or driven to desperation by a draconian labor system called kafala, in which foreigners surrender rights to get a work visa in the Persian Gulf.
The woman, landed on a metal awning and broke an arm in the fall.