Human rights pressures mount on Qatar ahead of World Cup
Qatar is incapable of silencing its critics.
Qatar has been increasingly feeling that no matter how it changes its policies to protect minority rights for the Qatar World Cup 2020, it isn't able to silence its critics, considering that what is done is nowhere close to what the mega-rich Gulf state has committed so far and given the particularly poor status of freedom of the press in the country.
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Six months from the start of the World Cup, minorities such as migrant workers and women have seen some sort of progress in their rights, but not without a fight.
The focus on Qatar's human rights issue returned when Amnesty International on Thursday demanded that FIFA set up a $440 million fund for abused foreign laborers. Since it was granted holding the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has spent some $300 billion on infrastructure around the World Cup. In addition to 7 stadiums; some of the money was allocated to 2.5 million foreign workers. People are pressuring Qatar to do more before November 21, when the first ball will be kicked.
Since 2016, Qatar has allegedly abolished much of the Kafala system, which frames foreign workers into restrictions that prohibit them from changing jobs or leaving the country without the approval of the employer, who is typically permitted to confiscate employees' passports. In addition, a minimum wage and working time limits in extreme weather conditions were also introduced into labor force laws.
The head of the UN International Labour Organisation, Max Tunon, said that working conditions have improved for hundreds of thousands of laborers. However, not all rules are being applied.
"We still see cases where employers are retaliating against workers who wish to change jobs, we still see cases where workers are not being paid their due wages, there are still cases where domestic workers are not given the right to a day off per week," said Tunon, saying that Qatar nonetheless was put on a "positive trajectory".
Women's rights are a lot more of a sensitive issue than migrant rights due to t the traditional social grounds of Qatari society. It wasn't until 2020 that women had been able to get a driver's license without permission from a male guardian. However, women in Qatar still need permission from male guardians to marry, travel, and work in governmental jobs.
When Qatari authorities allowed women to get a driving license, "it only happened after months of women taking to social media to complain," said Rothna Begum, women's rights specialist at Human Rights Watch.