feral children of Sri Lanka
The government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has perceived a new problem amongst its people: the women are leaving.
Large numbers of women are going abroad – mostly to the Middle East – to work – mostly as domestics. The women can earn more money as maids, cooks and nannies than their men can earn as day labourers, and the placement agency fees are usually less.
The government of Sri Lanka has decided that this trend is hurting their society because children are being left without their mothers. The children are not, however, turning feral and terrorising the country, they are instead being raised by grandmothers and aunts.
I heard all of this on BBC World Service this morning. They interviewed a Sri Lankan woman who had returned home after working in Dubai for 10 years. She had sent money home regularly to support her family, and she also saved enough money to buy a house upon her return. She said that she never would have been able to buy a house for her family without going to work abroad.
They also interviewed a school headmaster. He said that children whose mothers are abroad usually have problems in school. They don’t stay focused, they have behavioural problems, whatever.
The government has decided that this is a national problem and it must do something about it. So the government has proposed legislation to forbid women who have children under the age of 5 from leaving the country to work. That totally offends me for 2 reasons.
1) Civil liberties, personal freedom, etc. More politicians thinking that they need to tell other people how to live their lives. Idiots that think they have the answers to problems they have never faced. And not only that, but this legislation would severely discriminate against women.
2) Politicians always miss the point. Why are they trying to treat a case of pneumonia with a bandage? The problem is not that women are leaving the country. The problem is that women feel the need to leave the country. Politicians need to ask themselves, what is the real problem? And then they need to address that.
I am not an expert on Sri Lanka, but some cursory research has shown me that their economy is shit. In the late 1970s, the government turned slightly from a state-controlled market to a more free market, but they have recently started going back the other way.
Currently, the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party has a more statist economic approach, which seeks to reduce poverty by steering investment to disadvantaged areas, developing small and medium enterprises, promoting agriculture, and expanding the already enormous civil service. The government has halted most privatizations…
About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% in the Middle East. They send home more than $1 billion a year.
– CIA Factbook
I am not an economist, but I reckon that building the economy would provide some new opportunities for the Sri Lankan people to make their living at home. Obviously their government’s current approach is not working. And forcing women to stay at home would not only be a serious human rights issue, but it would also do absolutely nothing to solve the country’s economic problems. The whole proposition is just so stupid that it makes me want to scream.
Have I mentioned lately how much I loathe governments?