MANY workers providing services to the affluent by stitching dresses, ironing clothes or working as salesmen at fabric shops cannot afford these luxuries for their own families because of extremely low wages.
Sakina is a widow who looks after her two minor boys, a grown up daughter who is mentally retarded and a married daughter who visits her twice a week with her child and husband. She irons dresses in her one room house for wealthy families in the neighbourhood. The cost of electricity has doubled but the amount that she gets for pressing a dress has not increased proportionately. In Ramazan, she works 18 hours a day to cope with higher demand.
Yet she and her children rarely wear clothes that are ironed. To her dismay, the additional income she generated this year was consumed in buying high priced food items. She could not afford to stand in a queue the whole day at bazaars opened by the Punjab government.
Mumtaz stitches women’s dresses round the year but overworks in Ramazan to cope with higher demand. Yet she hardly saves enough to afford a new dress for herself. She is in her late forties and is unmarried. She looks after her younger brother and lives in a rented house.
Akbar is a salesman at a cloth shop at Anarkali. He has to work extra hours throughout Ramazan. His monthly salary is Rs 6,000 that is high by market standards.
He, however, can not afford to buy fabric for dresses of his two younger sisters. He did not earn extra overtime in the fasting month as he is asked to come to the shop at 1 pm and leave after 12 hours at 1 am which is routine working time for all salesmen.
Increase in the prices of essential food items is an unfortunate tradition in Ramazan, effectively making this month the most expensive of the year. Yet local incomes are well below a living wage and it is difficult to see how in such circumstances a believer can honestly and adequately provide for his or her family during this month.
In much the same vein, it is not clear how one can extend a sense of generosity to others when their own personal needs are far from being met.
Those who engage in and benefit from price hike are Muslims who also claim to be fasting and seeking absolution from worldly vices. In practice, they show little compassion for those who have to pay high prices for food commodities or for those less well off, who may in addition have large families to feed.
The manner in which alms is administered by these rich families renders redundant the concept of respecting another’s dignity and confidentiality. They rather engage in an arrogant display of wealth with very little intention to make a difference.
From: The International News