No domestic worker rights which a rich man was bound to respect

An interesting story was in the Guardian about successful litigation by a foreign domestic worker in Hong Kong against her employer, a family who were abusive to the point that she has permanent injuries. The rise in migrant nurses, domestics, and construction workers is accompanied by widespread abuse and slave-like conditions. The wealthy nations continue to get wealthier, and their elite require a wide range of help.

The plight of migrant workers all over the world reminds me of Chief Justice Taney’s famous line from the Dred Scott decision, that blacks had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The American system of chattel slavery is not a perfect comparison by any means, but the entitlement that the wealthy have in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, among others, is incredible. If migrant workers are held with contempt and their humanity not made a societal concern, then the abuse should not be a surprise. We can only be surprised by human rights abuses in a world where they should not be expected. We do not live in such a world currently.