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This company used a migrant worker as a hand sanitizer. That's unacceptable.

This company used a migrant worker as a hand sanitizer. That's unacceptable.

An oil company based in Saudi Arabia, a country where oppression and exploitation are rampant, humiliated an employee through a needless exercise.

Countries in the GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, are known to "import" migrant labor for professions considered menial or intensive. For example, the fields of construction and sanitation in nations like Saudia Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are all dominated by workers from South Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This is because it is cheaper to hire someone from abroad than a local citizen. This practice has, of course, been viewed as deeply discriminatory and oppressive. In the most recent act of subjugation, a company based in Saudi Arabia made a worker dress up as a hand sanitizer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Several humanitarian organizations have deemed this humiliating and unacceptable.

 



 

The incident came to light when Dr. Abbas Kadhim, a member of the Atlantic Council, tweeted out a photo of the employee dressed up as a sanitizer while another employee - clearly at a higher level than the former worker - "used" him. The photo depicted the employee wearing a large stand-like costume with the word "sanitizer" printed across his chest. Underneath the label rested a sanitizer pump, which people could use to release sanitizer through. Dr. Kadhim stated, "Saudi Aramco’s idea of a hand sanitizer stand: a foreign worker from a poor country. The company apologized after a wave of criticism for its utter racism and disregard of human dignity. The mistreatment of foreign labor in some Gulf countries is outrageously rampant." Saudi Aramco is a national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the wealthiest and most influential countries in the world, seeing as it controls a large supply of the world's oil.

 



 

ImpACT International, a London-based think tank concerned with the policies of states and businesses, too, tweeted several photos of the worker engaged in the task he was assigned. The human rights organization affirmed in a series of tweets, "The photos that went viral recently of an Asian Saudi Aramco worker forced to act as a human stand for dispensing hand sanitizer reflect a lack of respect for human dignity and a failure to protect human rights. Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are frequently not treated as human beings, but as objects or property." The organization's tweets shed light on a rampant problem that much of the Western world is not aware of.

 



 

Due to the outrage caused by the situation, Saudi Aramco was forced to release an official statement. Though it was originally published in Arabic, loose translations have shown that the company expressed "strong dissatisfaction with this abusive behavior." The statement claimed that the company immediately took note of the practice and ensured that it came to an end. It also affirmed that Saudi Aramco did not wish to "compromise on its values which are based on respect and adherence to ethics and conduct." Needless to say, this is a situation that should have never occurred in the first place. It is only a slight glimpse into the kind of degrading act migrant laborers are forced to do in countries like Saudi Arabia.

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