Labor conditions in Qatar spark fear of coronavirus outbreak going out of control

Migrant labourers work at a construction site at the Aspire Zone in Doha, Qatar, March 26, 2016. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Labor conditions in Qatar spark fear of coronavirus outbreak going out of control

  • Qatar has faced international condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers

RIYADH: Qatar on Wednesday said 238 new coronavirus cases had been discovered among expatriates quarantined in a residential compound.
The huge jump in cases - from 24 to 262 - was announced in a health ministry statement that failed to clarify if the infected are migrant workers living in labor camps.
Qatar has faced international condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers, particularly those employed on major construction projects linked to the World Cup 2022.
Laborers recruited from poor countries like Pakistan and Nepal often live packed into camps in the desert from where they are bussed to the construction sites.
Among the many reports documenting the abuses, Amnesty International found in 2016 that workers at one of the flagship stadiums were forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and had wages withheld and passports confiscated.
Some observers suggested Qatar’s lack of transparency over the coronavirus raised questions about whether the infection could be going through one of the labor camps.
“Anyone know if these 238 new coronavirus cases discovered in Qatar are migrant laborers?” asked Brian Whitaker, the former Middle East editor at The Guardian newspaper. “They are described as expatriates in shared accommodation,” he added.
Qatar claims it has enacted a series of reforms to protect workers, but Amnesty said last year abuses continued and hundreds of workers were going unpaid as those reforms stalled.


Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

Updated 04 July 2020

Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

  • Allegations have been widely circulating on social media detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man
  • Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested a man who allegedly sexually abused dozens of girls and women, in a case that has sparked outrage online, a security source said.
Allegations have been widely circulating on social media since Wednesday detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man.
One allegation claimed that he attempted to abuse a 14-year-old girl.
“The person accused of harassing the girls has been arrested and will be facing the prosecution following the allegations carried on social media,” the security source said.
“Those affected should submit formal reports of the harm they endured,” the source added.
The source did not identify the suspect.
According to the social media reports, the first of which was published on an Instagram account, the abuse had been going on since at least 2018.
Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action.
Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) lodged an official complaint with the public prosecutor to investigate the allegations on Saturday.
“The NCW has followed the social media account on Instagram, which was launched by girls and women complaining that a man raped some of them and sexually assaulted and harassed others,” it said on Facebook.
It also said that several victims, who reached out to the council, recounted that the man “blackmailed and threatened to defame them using photos and clips documenting his heinous crimes.”
The council urged the women to submit official complaints to the prosecutor.
Some online reports suggested the perpetrator was a university student.
The American University in Cairo acknowledged the suspect had studied there but said he left the university in 2018.
He “is not a current student at the American University in Cairo,” a statement said.
Sexual harassment is highly prevalent in Egypt.
United Nations surveys have found that most Egyptian women have been subject to harassment, ranging from catcalling to pinching and groping.
Egyptian authorities have criminalized sexual harassment since 2014, but many women complain that the problem remains rampant.