Former Bangladeshi Camel Jockeys to Receive Compensation
The United Arab Emirates will make available $1.43 million to compensate the children forced to become camel jockeys. 879 Bangladeshi children have been found who suffered years of abuse at the hands of the camel racing fraternity.
Children as young as three were strapped onto camels for the racing. It is unknown how many children were killed and maimed as many are missing.
However, Anti-Slavery International is concerned that according to the UAE’s own estimates, of the 3,000 child camel jockeys identified in 2005, only 1,100 children have since returned to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan and Mauritania.
Shameem Miah is one of 879 Bangladeshi children who will receive compensation from the United Arab Emirates for years of suffering as child camel jockeys.
The Bangladeshi authorities have received $1.43m from the UAE which will be distributed among the families of former child jockeys.
IN VIDEO UEA pays out to former child camel jockeys
This is an unprecedented move to compensate child jockeys from camel races – a centuries-old desert tradition and tourist attraction in the Gulf.
The payment follows pressure from human rights groups that eventually led the UAE to ban the use of child jockeys in 2005. Most had been trafficked from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sudan.
Their terrified screams allegedly drove the camels to race even faster, much to the satisfaction of the camel owners.
Prized for their light weight, child jockeys tell of being deliberately starved, often going days without food, in order to keep them below 20 kilos.
"The camel owners would weigh us, if we ate too much, they would give us electrical shocks. I was so scared of them, I remember, if I would lose a race they would beat us," Shameem says.
The use of small children in camel racing has now been banned in the UAE, however, Antislavery International states:
It is also important to stress that children have been used in camel racing across the Gulf, including in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Until the entire region takes steps to rescue and repatriate children, then there is no guarantee that the practice has ended.”
In a related NP article Mitchell's Firm Lobbied for Dubai's Ruler in Camel Jockey it is revealed that a law firm was paid $8 million to defend the Dubai ruler against a child trafficking lawsuit.