Lebanon: Helping abused migrant workers

Following up on the issue of abused maids, it turns out that Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center is trying to help migrant workers, mostly from Africa and East Asia, by providing some refuge and advocating their rights. They seem to have a very tough job on their hand but at least someone is acting. This article by Ethiopian Reporter mentions cases of hardships and abuse that some workers suffered and how Caritas intervened to help them.

According to the report, the organization carried out a survey of Lebanese employers’ attitude towards their migrant helpers. The results are grim, to say the least.

Over 90% of employers think it is right to confiscate their worker’s passport;
over 80% actively limit their worker’s movement and contacts;
nearly 50% have their workers on call 24 hours a day;
and 41% of employers think its fine to punish their worker – with over 30% admitting to hitting them, and regulating their food quality and intake.

This is how the article describes the work of the organization:

Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, established in 1994 in Beirut, is a refuge and advocate for migrant workers who find themselves in a hostile working and living environment. There are drop-in centers and two safe houses for shelter. “Usually we receive trafficked girls who have been abused physically, mentally, sexually – who have been treated badly,” says Rania Hokayem, the center’s program manager.

But what about those who cannot find their way to this organization? What becomes of them?

6 comments

  1. They remain slaves.

  2. Ibn Bint Jbeil · · Reply

    thank you, moussa, for bringing light to this issue. it is high time that we lebanese evolve beyond our facade.therefore i feel proud when a fellow lebanese such as yourself stands up for what’s right, even if that be contrary to the mainstream.i truly believe that when obnoxious lebanese employers abuse their foreign workers, even if it is emotional abuse and does not reach one physical level or another, that abusive employer is divulging their own weakness, self-hatred, identity confusion, and a cycle of ceaseless societal abuse.

  3. Ibn Bint Jbeil · · Reply

    i hope it is ok: i linked to your article on my blog.

  4. I know the gov have other issues to worry about, but a good idea is to establish a hotline where migrant can call for any prob.Of couse, the number should be communicated to every migrant when they enter the country.

  5. or maybe one talk-show episode every 5 years will do.. this society’s hypocrisy is reaching unknown heights.

  6. Why is it that Lebanon needs domestic help (indentured labour really) on this scale? Is this nation so busy that the prospect of washing the dishes has become a national pipe dream? Or is it good old fashioned status and shame taken a notch up: ‘acquisition’ of fellow human beings as status symbols; and shame of honest work/contempt for honest workers (here look outside the home to Syrian workers for example – persecute them for trying to make a living doing the work that’s below us). Oversimplified yes, but just another little Lebanese something to behold…

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