Sometimes the staggering backwardness of Arab societies is mind boggling. One reads weird things and one is simply left speechless. No, I am not about to launch into an anti-american tirade disguised as an anti-arab tirade. In this post my axe-grinding and teeth gnashing has nothing to do with my usual favourite topic of Arabs being lackeys of the US. The Kuwait Times today reports that the United Arab Emirates has sent home more than 1,000 smuggled child jockeys. These children had been trafficked from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other places. This is what I read in Wikipedia about child camel jockeys:

Child camel jockeys are often sexually and physically abused; most are physically and mentally stunted, as they are deliberately starved to prevent weight gain. According to a documentary by the American television channel HBO and the Ansar Burney Trust [2], many of the children are only fed two biscuits a day with water. Others are forced to wear metal helmets in the scorching heat of the desert so they bleed through their noses and lose weight that way.

Forced to work up to 18 hours a day, those children who fall asleep are punished with electric shocks while those who disobey orders are tied in chains and beaten.

Uncle Sam has apparently been concerned about camel racing and children for years. As recently as August last year it issued a fact sheet about the victims of camel racing. Despite the influence the US wields in these states, it has not been able to make much headway it seems. Tnis is an extract from the US State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2006:

Qatar is a destination country for men and women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and Indonesia who migrate willingly, but are subsequently trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers. The problem of trafficking of foreign children for camel jockey servitude in Qatar — which has been highlighted in previous Reports — was thoroughly addressed by Government of Qatar action over the last year, though independent confirmation of the problem’s complete elimination is not yet available.

The US has admonished Bangladesh in the past for failing to adequately fight international trafficking. In 2004 the US blacklisted Bangladesh and moved it from Tier 2 to Tier 3 category of blacklisting ( = countries not making significant efforts). In that report it noted that Bangladeshi boys (as young as four) are trafficked into the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and forced to work as camel jockeys and beggars. Women and children from rural areas in Bangladesh are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work.