Chidi Emmanuel: Hostile work environment kills

Hostile work environment kills

By Chidi Emmanuel

As cases of killings, suicides and suicide-attempts keep grabbing the headlines in Kuwait newspapers, one will not stop but to ask why all these workers tried to take these extreme measures rather than living in fear and disgrace. Some of these workers are subjected to a hostile working environment. Most of these maids (victims) claim to have been treated badly in their workplaces. Some were/are being humiliated, tortured (mentally), frustrated, and made hopeless. Some are being dehumanized and treated like aliens.

Whereas, May Vecina, the Filipino maid who slit the throat of a six-year-old Kuwaiti boy claims the victim’s mother always insult her, saying she smells like a rotten egg. Others claim they were beaten, like the badly-battered Indonesian Wanda Mihnib that was defaced by one of her employers. Many have been raped, starved and made to suffer all forms of ill treatments in their working places. The situation is not only for housemaids as we have seen lots of expatriates committing suicide in Kuwait.

The truth is that many expatriates in Kuwait live in fear- the fear of losing your job, the fear of losing your sponsor and being deported etc. This element of fear is causing a psychological problem to many expatriates. The fact that losing your job means losing your residency in Kuwait makes it more troublesome. In that case, an employee stands only at the mercy of his or her employer. Any slightest mistake will stripe you of these ample opportunities (your hard-earned job and your residency).

A hostile working environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the ‘harasser’. The harasser, in this case may be the boss, or even colleague that is an agent to the boss. You may be discriminated against or you may be picked on any thing you do in attempt to frustrate you. Your case will be different whenever you do what others have been doing and getting free. You may be hated because of your color, religion, nationality, ingenuity etc. In this case, going to your working place is like going to a battlefield. If you survive that day without getting sacked, doxology to God as you pray for the next day.

This antagonistic environment can be created by anyone in the work environment, such as supervisors, co-employees, or even customers. It can consist of foul languages, unwelcome physical contact, vulgar or lewd comments. It usually occurs regularly.
Some of the employees quizzed, admitted that they are working in a hostile environment. “What makes a working environment hostile may be a person in that working place. My boss is like a roaring lion in my working place. Everybody fears him and hates him. He doesn’t have any single respect for those under him. The worst of it all is that he has a clique he works with as agents that will be reporting anything anyone says against him. It sucks”, Ellen, a teacher (in an undisclosed school) lamented. “I only have peace of mind during the weekend. This is causing a big problem because many staff have been fired with silly reasons. So we have dusted our CVs waiting for our turn thus making us to live in fear”, depressed Ellen added.

Some go as far as worshipping the boss in bid to secure their job. “We have to praise whatever she does (whether good or bad), that’s the only way you could be spared from her wrath. She is the mistress of all, always busy doing nothing. All we need to do is to praise her beauty and good-for-nothing elephant projects, just to make her happy and spare our jobs”, Hilda, an Indian expatriate said. “I wish she could see how empty she is upstairs. If not that I will lose my residency, I would have resigned long ago. I have to endure her bullying just for the sake of my kids in India”, she added.

Changing a hostile working environment requires a change in attitudes because all of us owe something to others, without the assistance of others, the greatest among us would not go far.

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Comment by chidi emmanuel ekeh on June 30, 2009 at 5:58pm
be good to others

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