Barely two months ago on March 9, Betty Yu, a reporter at KPIX 5, tweeted a short video clip of three women assaulting a Nepali uber driver after he denied them a ride for not wearing a mask.
The whole incident was captured on the camera and had since gone viral on social media with many people outraged by the behaviour of those women. People also called the incident a hate crime.
The driver was later identified as Subhakar Khadka, 32, originally from Nepal who has been residing in the US for nearly eight years, and has been working as an uber driver for the past three years.
Khadka then had told different media that he was harassed and mocked by the unruly passengers because he is a South Asian immigrant.
In the video posted on social media, the women were seen coughing at the Khadka. Even yelling by using abusive language. They even ripped off his face masks while one of the women tried to grab his phone.
As soon as the video was shared on social media, people were outraged and stood in support of Khadka, saying no individual deserves such hatred.
A campaign was launched to support Khadka which collected over $100,000.
The police later arrested those women and were sentenced to jail.
The incident Khadka faced however is not an anomaly.
Hundreds of migrant workers often face such assaults. However, they do not dare to report for fear of losing their jobs and instead, a majority of them stay quiet and continue their work despite being harassed and exploited by the employer.
In the United States alone, there’s been a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans since the pandemic started.
Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting centre that’s been tracking cases like these said from March to December of last year, they received over 2,808 first hand accounts of anti-Asian hate crimes.
Not only in the US, such incidents are often faced in other countries too. Hasta, 52, has been living in Scotland for over two decades now. “After getting my driving license here in Scotland, I worked as an cab driver but it was not easy in the beginning ,” said Hasta, who wished to be identified only by his first name.
“My English was not good and people used to tease me,” he said. “If some passengers are in a hurry, they want me to drive very fast and if I don’t follow their order, they used to abuse me and even quarrel with me while paying fare. ”
After which I left working as a cab driver and instead started to work as a delivery guy, said Hasta in a telephone call.
Even now, I do delivery jobs sometimes, and still have to face racist comments and hatred sometimes, said Hasta who is originally from Nepal.
“I work in cash sometimes and I still have to quarrel with my boss about the payment,” he said. “They do not pay standard rates to Asians, but pay good amounts to people who are from Europe or other English speaking countries.”
Every year thousands of Nepali citizens apply for work permits in the Department of Foreign Employment. Even in the fiscal year 2019/20, a total of 368,433 labour permits were issued to aspiring migrant workers despite the pandemic.
On July 7 last year, a mobile video clip of a Nepali security guard in Malaysia getting beaten up by his supervisor with a truncheon had gone viral on social media. After widespread criticism on social media, the Nepali embassy in Kuala Lumpur filed a complaint at the local authority demanding action against the culprit. Later, the man was booked for four months.
However, not all incidents could be recorded and not many workers want to get involved in police cases, so many of them end up doing nothing against such harassers.
Except for migrant workers, thousands of students apply abroad for their further studies. Besides study, a majority of students engage in part-time jobs so that they can pay their tuition fees and cover living expenses. Even students often become the victim of harassment and assaults by the employer.
Sujit Kc, 21, went to Australia for his higher studies nearly two years ago. After staying unemployed for nearly three months, KC finally got a part-time job as a kitchen helper in an Australian restaurant.
“I worked part-time because I don’t want to burden my family with the hefty college fees,” said KC. “However, working was not easy for the Australian restaurant. I had to work for over six hours without taking a break. If I dare to take a small break, the head chef would scold by using abusive language.?
KC said once he mistakenly dropped some plates while washing and the chef, who was from New Zealand and manager of the restaurant, abused him in public
“It was quite a humiliation,” said KC. “But I could do nothing, as I feared losing my job. I continued until I got another job.”