Part of the dilemma of being a feminist is that you contemplate and ponder over EVERYTHING. It goes with the job description of being an activist, I suppose. Every little thing that I see, my mind starts to churn out arguments on a feminist and muslim scale. I need to put on my feminist analysis to decide whether something is oppressive, if its part of a cycle that is causing oppression, is it racist, is it going to perpetuate some form of behaviour that will in turn cause violence etc etc. My mind is always churning with thoughts like that. I can barely watch movies anymore. I’m left seething with anger – almost every movie has something or the other offensive against women and muslims.
One of the things that has been bothering me the most lately is: wealth. They say money is the source of all evil. I agree. But what is more disturbing is the powers that are kept in place to ensure that the poor remain poor and the wealthy grow wealthier. I look at the gardener or the driver at my parents place back home, and feel this weird guilt. This guilt for having been blessed with all the luxuries in the world, due to no credit of my own. Only because I was born into the family I was born into, and not theirs. I will go to college funded by my parents, while the drivers kids will probably leave school and work to bear the household expenses. If by chance, they get the opportunity to study, he’d never have the connections to prosper. He’d probably struggle to get a job. When he manages one, he’d be enslaved to the corporate slavery: the lower your pay, the more you work.
Speaking of corporate slavery, M sent me an awesome link from CAIR LA’s newsletter. CAIR LA has taken on a new initiative to create an awareness against wage theft. Wage theft is when employers withhold payments, pay under the minimum wage level or deny overtime pay when it should be paid. Wage theft is when an employer violates the law and deprives a worker of legally mandated wages.
Whats sad is when these acts are committed by institutions that we shouldnt expect them from – faith based organizations or multi-million dollar corporations like wal-mart, target, cintas, mcdonalds.
Wage theft is criminal and unethical – even if the work is for a faith based organization. Many organizations thief wages under the pretext of “Fee Sabih Lillah” – Charity for the sake of God. It is also illegal. Every worker is due their wages.. charity can not be forced or mandated by the organization. Organizations that commit wage theft, find illegal loopholes or falsely claim the number of hours that the employee has worked – an act of fraud.
Wage theft affects already marginalized groups like women and immigrants. What makes the fraud more heinous is when the CEOs or the adminstrators of the organizations earn exhorbitantly more than the lower wage earners (apparently the charity clause doesn’t apply to them!). All faith based organizations are just that… businesses! They should be following the same laws that apply to all other organizations.
Join me as I create awareness this month. Please write to your local faith institutes – be it the church, mosque, temple or synagogue and encourage dialogue during sermons. Please visit: http://www.iwj.org/index.cfm/wage-theft for more information!