An-Najah University Journal for Research - B (Humanities)


In this paper, we try to examine the mistreatment, enslavement, forced labor, violence, and persecution meted out against Indian migrant laborers in Saudi Arabia. We also attempt to explain the Kafala, system of sponsorship, its mechanism, and how migrant laborers like the protagonist of Benyamin’s Goat Days, Najeeb Muhammad, become victims to such system. This study sheds light not only on Najeeb’s dehumanizing confinement, fear, mental agony, and physical torture but also on his resistance and rebellion against his own enslavement. It concludes that the story of Najeeb underscores the pressing need for the government of Saudi Arabia to reform the Kafala sponsorship system to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable migrant laborers and to ensure decent, safe working and living conditions for them. These reforms should be enforced by monitoring sponsors who would ensure that violators are persecuted. It is also an obligation shared by the migrant laborers’ sending countries which should create awareness among migrant laborers about the working conditions laws, benefits and rights expected in the Gulf States to avoid persecution and slavery like Najeeb. This study concludes that Najeeb’s narrative of slavery in Saudi Arabia harms its image and holy status as an enlightening minaret of Islam and its loving and peaceful religious teachings that do not permit slavery, oppression, exploitation and humiliation.