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Abu Dhabi Woman
Ms Cat Cat

Harassed By Driver, What Would You Do?

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Wow, that's not patronizing at all.

LM, I had no intention of being condescending. But...I am of a certain age. :) My only wish when I made the post was to help someone. I'm sorry if you took offense even though I don't understand how you could have.

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Lolo, perhaps because I"m near TGL's "certain age", I don't see her post as patronizing at all. Sometimes we women can feel like victims, and I think that her post reminds us that we are actually more in control than we think. Not always -- certainly there are truly dangerous situations, and flight is the only solution. But most often, assertiveness/strength (and reminding men of their moms/sisters!) can help -- at least, I've found that to be the case! :biggrin1:

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Not making conversation or eye contact is not going to teach them anything.

Dear, first I learned what objectify means now. :-)

The 'not giving them an eye contact' is not supposed to teach them..it supposed to get us (ladies) out of trouble.

In my first land here couple of years ago, I was also friendly, smiling to people. But my being friendly was being mistaken to be "giving a signal that I like them" hence they are trying some aggressive moves to take advantage of the opportunity. Horrible. However, I did not scare them to call the police, instead I walked away and started to just choose whom should I be smiling to and not.

Sometimes speaking to them, even in strong or angry voice, does not send the message across unless maybe if we speak the same language. I rather avoid trouble so I will prefer to neither make an eye contact longer than 1 second nor even smile at them.

Edited by corona

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I'm another one who doesn't indulge the cross cultural differences when it comes to unwanted advances and instead just rely on good manners and common sense. I understand why "they" (if we're referring to labourers/taxi or bus drivers here) think that way, and have learnt to tolerate the staring but when the line is crossed to an unwanted approach then I treat everyone the same. Polite rejection at first, then a firm response, then I walk away. If they follow me when I walk away I'd tell a shop assistant or security guard that I was being followed by a stranger and didn't feel comfortable.

It's worth mentioning though that "they" are not always the low paid workers or labourers... especially since summer has come and the western expat bachelors are out on the prowl again with their "can I join you I'm lonely" lines... these types can be much harder to shake off and more bothersome. :thumbsdown:

The situation on the bus was a tough one as you can't walk away and I would have been intimidated - I think the complaint to IKEA is as much as I would do, and I'd ask for a follow up call to advise me what action had been taken for my own reassurance before using the bus service again.

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Wow, did not know the word 'they' is offensive. So how about just refer to 'them' as 'men'? Got to be politically correct this time :smile:

Actually I don't believe a bus driver, a taxi driver, or a construction worker here is being held against his will and forced into labor without being compensated properly- definition of a slave. They are here because they found jobs here. Same reason lots of 'us' are here. 'We' are really not that much different from 'them' in this sense. Just all foreign workers.

Hope it got sorted out this time~~~

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Not to be contrary, but many of them are indentured servants, close enough to slaves. From the 2009 article, The Dark Side of Dubai in The Independent:

"

Sahinal Monir, a slim 24-year-old from the deltas of Bangladesh. "To get you here, they tell you

Dubai

is heaven. Then you get here and realise it is hell," he says. Four years ago, an employment agent arrived in Sahinal's village in Southern Bangladesh. He told the men of the village that there was a place where they could earn 40,000 takka a month (£400) just for working nine-to-five on construction projects. It was a place where they would be given great accommodation, great food, and treated well. All they had to do was pay an up-front fee of 220,000 takka (£2,300) for the work visa – a fee they'd pay off in the first six months, easy. So Sahinal sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to this paradise.

As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to work," they replied.

Sahinal was in a panic. His family back home – his son, daughter, wife and parents – were waiting for money, excited that their boy had finally made it. But he was going to have to work for more than two years just to pay for the cost of getting here – and all to earn less than he did in Bangladesh.

He shows me his room. It is a tiny, poky, concrete cell with triple-decker bunk-beds, where he lives with 11 other men. All his belongings are piled onto his bunk: three shirts, a spare pair of trousers, and a cellphone. The room stinks, because the lavatories in the corner of the camp – holes in the ground – are backed up with excrement and clouds of black flies. There is no air conditioning or fans, so the heat is "unbearable. You cannot sleep. All you do is sweat and scratch all night." At the height of summer, people sleep on the floor, on the roof, anywhere where they can pray for a moment of breeze.

The water delivered to the camp in huge white containers isn't properly desalinated: it tastes of salt. "It makes us sick, but we have nothing else to drink," he says.

The work is "the worst in the world," he says. "You have to carry 50kg bricks and blocks of cement in the worst heat imaginable ... This heat – it is like nothing else. You sweat so much you can't pee, not for days or weeks. It's like all the liquid comes out through your skin and you stink. You become dizzy and sick but you aren't allowed to stop, except for an hour in the afternoon. You know if you drop anything or slip, you could die. If you take time off sick, your wages are docked, and you are trapped here even longer."

He is currently working on the 67th floor of a shiny new tower, where he builds upwards, into the sky, into the heat. He doesn't know its name. In his four years here, he has never seen the Dubai of tourist-fame, except as he constructs it floor-by-floor.

Is he angry? He is quiet for a long time. "Here, nobody shows their anger. You can't. You get put in jail for a long time, then deported." Last year, some workers went on strike after they were not given their wages for four months. The Dubai police surrounded their camps with razor-wire and water-cannons and blasted them out and back to work.

The "ringleaders" were imprisoned. I try a different question: does Sohinal regret coming? All the men look down, awkwardly. "How can we think about that? We are trapped. If we start to think about regrets..." He lets the sentence trail off. Eventually, another worker breaks the silence by adding: "I miss my country, my family and my land. We can grow food in Bangladesh. Here, nothing grows. Just oil and buildings."

Since the recession hit, they say, the electricity has been cut off in dozens of the camps, and the men have not been paid for months. Their companies have disappeared with their passports and their pay. "We have been robbed of everything. Even if somehow we get back to Bangladesh, the loan sharks will demand we repay our loans immediately, and when we can't, we'll be sent to prison."

This is all supposed to be illegal. Employers are meant to pay on time, never take your passport, give you breaks in the heat – but I met nobody who said it happens. Not one. These men are conned into coming and trapped into staying, with the complicity of the Dubai authorities."

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Not to move us further off-topic, and Lolo MC I actually agree with you that many workers here have crushingly difficult conditions to endure, but it's worth pointing out that not only was this article quite strongly questioned at the time (see here http://dubaithoughts.blogspot.com/2009/04/most-vitriolic-piece-on-dubai-so-far.html) but the author, Johann Hari, was himself suspended from the Independent newspaper for plagiarism. Not the strongest piece of evidence.

Truthfully a cursory search through "The National" on the subject of workers in the UAE will probably give you all the evidence you need about the state of many of their conditions!

Back on topic: really sorry that happened to the OP. I can't even imagine how scary that must have been - I would have been terrified. And very glad you at least reported it to IKEA. It just burns my butt than "they" (and here I mean 'predatory men') get away with this s**t all the time and quite often because no one stands up to them. We have to call them on it!

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I would not have take the bus that day if I were the only female on that bus with just the driver - not even in the states would I have done that. It puts you in a precarious position of not being safe - and to me Ikea just isn't worth the trip alone with an unfamiliar male where he could overpower me in a parking lot and cause me harm. I grew up in a family where my dad and brother were police officers so it was drilled into us about being safe and making the right decisions about where to go and with whom. I won't say that you weren't thinking but I believe you made a bad decision to get on that bus and make that trip with just you and the driver. I know it may have been something you didn't think about when you got on the bus that this could be wrong, but it is, WHOEVER (THEM, HIM, a man - taxi driver, bus driver - sales person - delivery guy, water guy) Always use caution - never think that those people are "harmless" - they may well could be, but you need to be a strong woman who has attitude and purpose and not act the weakling - men prey upon women who they think are weak and unable to defend themselves - I hope that you will take that situation and keep it in mind as you travel by yourself - Caution keeps you alive...and safe.

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I would not have take the bus that day if I were the only female on that bus with just the driver - not even in the states would I have done that.

<snip>

I won't say that you weren't thinking but I believe you made a bad decision to get on that bus and make that trip with just you and the driver. <snip>

Do you think it could have been possible to phrase your advice so as to not blame the victim? The stupidity was on the part of the bus driver - not the OP.

Of course it should be OK to travel with a person paid to be a driver in daylight hours all by oneself and when it isn't it's appropriate to be shocked and outraged. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by trying to tell people that travelling in daylight hours in taxis (you mentioned taxi drivers) by themselves is a "bad decision" - especially in a place like this. What do you want to see Mrs Cat Cat do? Not move outside her front door without a constant travelling companion in case a taxi (or bus) driver takes it upon himself to assault her?

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What an exposure of indecency. I would've just kept quiet, moved to the end of the bus, and looked out the window. His assumptions would've been corrected, most likely. If he got any worse, I would've threatened to call the police, or I would've even "acted" to be doing so.

Don't talk to them and don't even make eye contact. That is what I learned. Not that all of them are bad people, but it could be the culture or something. If you show any sign of friendliness or politeness, they take is as a sign of approval that they can take further advantage of you. Feel for you and you should definitely report him so future female passengers will not be harassed.

I remember I once thanked someone who held the door open for me, and my brother said no one say's 'thank you' to strangers here. I still say 'thank you' and 'please', for my own sake. Sometimes they do start asking many questions and hint at things and it becomes really awkward. I dread taking a cab now.

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