The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner:
“Amal Unbound” & “The Maid”

Nov 8, 2021

Book: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, 2018

This is a book primarily for young adults, ages 9 to 12, though adults enjoy it too. The main character is Amal, a 12-year-old Pakistani girl who has to leave her home and school and serve as an indentured servant to the area’s corrupt and powerful landlord. He has power over the population by tying them to him through high-interest loans.

Though this system is illegal, authorities look the other way. He enforces the loan payments through brutality, even death, or by forcing a family to put one of their members in involuntary servitude to him. Amal (which means hope) is one of those forced into these modern slavery-like conditions. She finds a way to unite with her fellow servants and the community and they successfully fight back, even defeating the corrupt landlord.

The author says she depicted Amal’s life as better than most. There are 35.8 million people worldwide who are, according to the latest Global Slavery Index, still in servitude without any rights, liberty or freedom of movement, people who are forced to work for inadequate pay with the threat of violence. In Pakistan alone there are over 2 million people working in these conditions.

Amal and her fellow workers and her community find a way to get free in this hopeful book. It shows the power of a dream.

Video: The Maid on Netflix, 2021

This Netflix miniseries is based on the excellent book “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive”, 2019, which tells the true story of the author Stephanie Land and her struggles with poverty, single-motherhood, abusive men and little or no safety net.

The actress Margaret Qualley does a powerful job as the single mother Alex as she battles the welfare system, the rental market, inadequate day care and the poor support system for abused women, all while working as a maid to support herself and her daughter.

All the actors in the series are excellent, including the mother of Alex who is played by Margaret Qualley’s actual real life mother Andie MacDowell. This series shines a needed light on the millions of everyday heroes just like Alex!