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Majority of poor workers can’t afford to fast during Ramadan

Detik.com - September 23, 2007

Taufik Wijaya, Palembang – The majority of poor people in the South Sumatra city of Palembang are not fasting. The reason being that they are not strong enough to fast because they have to work harder to find more income in the lead up to the Lebaran holidays at the end of the Ramadan fasting month.

“Almost 60 percent of poor workers are not fasting. Such as pedicab drivers, city bus drivers, urban public transport drivers, construction workers", said Anton Bae from the Information Analysis Institute (Essai) on Saturday September 22. Bae has been conducting research on issue of “Fasting and Poverty”,

According to Bae, the 200 respondents who said they were not fasting admitted that it was they were not strong enough or unable to fast. “For example it is impossible to fast because they have to work as construction workers”, he said.

The irony however is that they are not fasting precisely because the number of hours they work during the fasting month increases. “They say they are chasing [more] income in the lead up to Lebaran”, said Bae.

Their situation is different from those working as professionals or government civil servants. “Very few are not fasting. Even if they are not fasting, generally it is because of health reasons”, said Bae, who interviewed 500 respondents in Palembang.

Bae concluded from the research that fasting is not something that considered a blessing for the poor. “The poor view fasting as an economic burden, particularly with regard to Lebaran. So, the things that cause people to be poor such as corruption, not only result in many people missing out on education opportunities or housing, but it is also detrimental to many people’s [religious] rituals”, explained Anton. (tw/gah)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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