We will try to find a solution to the domestic workers being enslaved in the Gulf Area using the design thinking method.
The first step was to choose the topic. We were thinking about different global security issues and we ended up with human trafficking. Then, we needed to narrow it. We focused on modern slavery, which is linked to human trafficking. For our focused topic we chose domestic workers in the Gulf area.
We think this issue is important, because if we are capable of finding a solution to this problem in this area, we can extrapolate it to another area or similar problems. This issue is a hidden problem, so as global citizens we should be aware of it.
Once we found our topic, we wanted to know the “public opinion” about it and how we can solve this problem. Then, we did a sociological survey with the others groups. They provided us with conventional solutions such as:
- Strict control of borders (legal measures)
- Increase minimum wages
- Give them some money to improve their living conditions (in terms of education etc.)
- Create new options for those in poverty
- Legalize human trafficking
- Embassy Control (patrolling, etc)
During a small survey trip to other groups, we found that people tend to think in a same way. The opinions we got from them were almost the same as our conventional ideas, like increasing minimum wages of those in poverty or improving their living conditions so that they won’t have to migrate in search of work. One interesting point was that everyone assumed that migrating domestic workers is illegal, so they suggested legalizing it to solve the problem.
To emphasize with domestic workers learning about their real stories, we looked for some videos on YouTube. We found two documentaries which seemed helpful to understand the root causes of this problem and find out potential non-conventional ideas.
Documentary 1: The Secret Slaves of Middle East
The governments of employers’ countries don’t work to protect domestic workers. Therefore, most of employers who abused them are not punished.
There is a strict hierarchy between the families and the workers. Workers can’t complaint about their situation in front of their patrons and they have to do whatever they are told to do.
Documentary 2: Domestic Workers Trapped
We noticed in the video that most workers are left with very few options once they start working and realize that they will be paid a lot less than what is written in their contracts and their only two choices is either to accept it or return back home to poverty because they can not change their employers and most of them choose to stay and endure the hard living and working conditions and may be that is one of the reasons their employers treat them badly without caring, they know that these workers have no other choice and also like it is mentioned in the video by the maid the employers feel that they own them, they even use the expression “we bought you” so that is also one reason to the mistreatment, the low wages, and giving them no holidays.
One other aspect that this video shows is how weak the laws that protect them are they are not even under the protection or the support of the labor associations which empowers in one way or another the kind of mistreatment they recieve.
After watching these videos, we could see the things that these workers actually lack. They lack any legal protection or support and they also lack any connection with each other or with some kind of authority that could help them in some way or another. Also we mentioned above that it is a hidden problem, so if it was not for those videos we may have never known their sufferings that helped us to look at the problem from different perspectives, instead of the conventional solutions that include amending laws, which takes time and may not be very effective. After all we wanted to create a solution that gives them what they lack as workers which is support, protection and connection.
Finally here is an image of the poster we made during the week before.