"A fate worse than death! (excerpt on child slavery and camel racing)."

Then, what about the jockeys?

The little kids, who are used as jockeys are strapped into their saddles to keep them from slipping off the charging camels. Sometimes Velcro or adhesive tapes are used as an alternative (Voice of America, 2005). One of the ‘advantages’ of using child jockeys is that their terrified painful cries make the camels run even faster.  Accidents are very frequent when the camels approach speeds of up to 40 kilometers an hour. Every now and then the kids fall off the camels and the camels run over their bodies. No wonder every second or third child is seen with a broken arm or broken leg (ABWT, 2004). It is a living hell for the children. These tiny slaves, working and dying for the pleasures of rich Arab Sheikhs are sometimes as young as two (Wikipedia, 2006).  They face a fate which is worse than death. 


(The left side picture shows a kid is being helped to mount the camel. There is no guaranty, that the child will be alive at the end of the sport. The right side picture indicates the rigorous training in the scorching heat of the desert. These photographs were taken during 2004 at the Nad Al Sheba racecourse in Dubai)

These children have to undergo a rigorous training schedule. It means working for about eighteen hours a day without payment. There is no holiday for them. Most jockeys only have a sheet on the sand for a bed and basic shelter. They have to work seven days a week in heats that even the local people shelter from (ABWT, 2004). Those who fall asleep are given electric shocks (in local language, this is called – giving a “KARBA”) as a wake up call (ABWT, 2005, Video Link 5). If they are tired and unable to carry out the orders of the trainer, they are tied in chains and mercilessly beaten. Often, if they cry for their parents, they are tied up by the wrists with their feet dangling in the air and their tender bodies are kicked as a punishment, (Selby, 2004).

The rescued children reported many stories of cruelty, as example, being tied up in chains in the desert heat, beaten with metal rods and leather whips, cut with blades and being raped by their “owners” (ABWT, 2005). Other punishments include couple of days without food. They are often told by their trainers a story about being unwanted and being sold by their parents into slavery. They have no legal status and no one to protect them.

One nine year old rescued boy described that every week he used to see by his own eyes the deaths of about 20 children, and more than a dozen injured.  He said "There was this one kid whose strap broke at the beginning of the race. His head was crushed between the legs of the running camel. Once the race has started it cannot stop” (ABWT, 2005).

They are deliberately starved to prevent weight gain. Many of these children are fed with only two dry biscuits, or half dirty bread a day with water just to keep body and soul together (Selby, 2004). Some of them are not even that lucky. To reduce body weight, the owners often force the kids to wear metal helmets and leave them under the boiling heat of the desert so that they bleed through their noses and lose their body weight. Another method of keeping them underweight is to force them to eat dirty and unhygienic food with seawater. The hope is that an upset stomach will stop the child from feeling hungry (ABWT, 2005). This saves the cost of the food and also keeps the kid underweight. Many of these children, who cannot tolerate this torture just collapse and die. 

(The barefoot child camel jockey in the above picture is begging for water at a racing track in Dubai. He had been deliberately left tied under the hot sun with helmet, so that he bleeds through nose and thus reduces weight. During summer the temperature goes well above 50oC (Asia Child Rights, 2004). Photo source: Ansar Burney Trust, 2004.)

(Source : http://www.islammonitor.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1412&Itemid=64)

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