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Lebanese mistreatment of domestic workers

Bandar

Bandar

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The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Kenya has lodged a complaint through its Beirut consulateagainst a controversial Mothers’ Day maid ad for "special offers" on Kenyans, which caused an uproar on social media last month.

A judicial source told The Daily Star the consulate filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office Tuesday that the ad was offensive to Kenyan citizens, and urged authorities to punish those responsible.

The advertisement, which was sent to thousands of mobile phone users across Lebanon last month, sparked outrage, with social media users denouncing it as racist.

The ad read: “For Mother’s Day indulge Ur Mom and offer her a housekeeper. Special offers on Kenyan and Ethiopian nationalities for a period of 10 days.”

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi has referred the maid ad to the prosecutor’s office for investigation.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized Lebanon over the poor treatment of domestic workers in the country, which uses a sponsorship, or "kafala," employment system.

The system bounds the maid to the employer, restricts her freedom of movement and denies her protections stipulated in the Lebanese labor law.

In January domestic workers declared the formation of a union to demand better treatment and highlight their current hardships, but it was immediately rejected by Azzi.

 
Bandar

Bandar

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i think that lebanese racism is by far the funniest thing i have yet to come across. how many lebanese people are going to go to sleep hungry tonight and without proper shelter? how many lebanese children are growing up without an education? how many lebanese don't have electricity? and still some people actually think that we are some kind of advanced species. LMAO.
 
Lebanese Pride

Lebanese Pride

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I hate generalisations, we have a maid and she is treated very very well because she has earned the respect she got but there are some of them that dont deserve anything and will bite the hand that feeds them
 
Indie

Indie

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I hate generalisations, we have a maid and she is treated very very well because she has earned the respect she got but there are some of them that dont deserve anything and will bite the hand that feeds them

Based on the racist posts you make, I highly doubt that you treat your housekeeper "very, very well." Can she go out by herself? Does she get to hold on to her passport? How many days off does she get a week? How many hours a day does she work? On her "off hours," if she has any, do you bother her or ask her to do stuff for you? Do you ever yell at her? Does she have her own bedroom? An actual bedroom, not a closet or a couch in the kitchen. What people consider "treated well" for housekeepers, they would never accept for themselves.
 
J

joseph_lubnan

Legendary Member
Based on the racist posts you make, I highly doubt that you treat your housekeeper "very, very well." Can she go out by herself? Does she get to hold on to her passport? How many days off does she get a week? How many hours a day does she work? On her "off hours," if she has any, do you bother her or ask her to do stuff for you? Do you ever yell at her? Does she have her own bedroom? An actual bedroom, not a closet or a couch in the kitchen. What people consider "treated well" for housekeepers, they would never accept for themselves.

lol Indie, are you organizing a Union? By the way there are a lot of abused male servants, you should say he/she, him/her. :) You are sexist.
 
Indie

Indie

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lol Indie, are you organizing a Union? By the way there are a lot of abused male servants, you should say he/she, him/her. :)

Well, yes. Construction workers and others aren't treated much better. But he was talking about his housekeeper.
 
J

joseph_lubnan

Legendary Member
Well, yes. Construction workers and others aren't treated much better. But he was talking about his housekeeper.

Watch out, I am a "Menenist" lol and I am watching every word you type :)
 
Chanklish

Chanklish

Well-Known Member
Most in ersal and tripoli and the Palestinian camps ...
i think that lebanese racism is by far the funniest thing i have yet to come across. how many lebanese people are going to go to sleep hungry tonight and without proper shelter? how many lebanese children are growing up without an education? how many lebanese don't have electricity? and still some people actually think that we are some kind of advanced species. LMAO.
 
Lebanese Pride

Lebanese Pride

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Orange Room Supporter
Based on the racist posts you make, I highly doubt that you treat your housekeeper "very, very well." Can she go out by herself? Does she get to hold on to her passport? How many days off does she get a week? How many hours a day does she work? On her "off hours," if she has any, do you bother her or ask her to do stuff for you? Do you ever yell at her? Does she have her own bedroom? An actual bedroom, not a closet or a couch in the kitchen. What people consider "treated well" for housekeepers, they would never accept for themselves.

I think its cute that you remember posts I made like year ago, I didnt even remember them before you mentioned, you must look up to me and keep a scrapbook of all my posts, Im glad I have had a positive influence on you.
 
Weezy

Weezy

Well-Known Member
Our maid actually orders me around sometimes, when she is swamped. And whenever i ask her something and she's busy doing something she goes "weezy, go and do it yourself" and I'd be like "fiiine :'( "

She has access to all our papers, and she even knows where i stash my money before i deposit them in the bank. She has copies of our house keys as well. It's actually a good thing since i always lose mine and end up borrowing hers.

I guess we trust her this much because of how pious she is. I remember when she first arrived she didn't speak a single arabic word, but whenever we pointed to any verse in the quran she started reading almost fluently, in arabic! Its pretty amazing.
 
Robin Hood

Robin Hood

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LEBANON PULSE

Lebanese domestic workers to unionize
In their fight against abuse and violence, around 200 foreign female domestic workers launched the first domestic workers union of Lebanon, with the help of the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees Union (FENASOL), an organization that has worked with foreign domestic employees for the past four years to make the government consider their rights. The union is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, but was still not recognized by the Ministry of Labor two months after its official creation.

The women who pushed for the founding of the domestic workers union can be found outside Beirut. In the gym of the College des Freres Unis school in Salouni, on March 15, well-dressed Sri Lankan women set up their annual Sri Lanka Women Society's Day. Mala, a domestic worker who has been in Lebanon for 33 years, is the organizer of the event, which has today a different feel.

“I'm the vice president of the new workers union and today we celebrate its creation, in addition to our special women's day,” she told Al-Monitor. “With the syndicate, we can now reach more girls and help ourselves. There are too many things to do. We need to talk about safety, working hours … It's human rights.”

In her opinion, “We [domestic workers] help the Lebanese people in the home, and they can help us getting our rights.” Some Filipino workers came to support them on this day of traditional celebrations, as did Gemma, who declared herself “a unionist.”

She worked for 22 years as a maid in Lebanon before deciding to resign and fully dedicate herself to the union. “How can I fight for my rights if I work all the time?” she asked. “Now we are only getting stronger. There is no answer from the government, but we will succeed,” she added before joining the stage and sing the new anthem of foreign workers in Lebanon: “Solidarity forever/The union makes us strong.”

As for now, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi has not accepted the syndicate to get licensed, nor declared it illegal. In Lebanese law, the matter is not that clear: Article 7 of the Labor Code stresses that construction workers, house workers, peasants, fishermen and family businesses cannot organize themselves, meanwhile Article 92 says that all foreign workers with a license and a visa are allowed to organize themselves.

The problem is that the vast majority of services and home care in Lebanon are carried out by migrant workers, around 200,000 according to the nongovernmental organization Migrant Rights. In 2010, a report issued by Human Rights Watch highlighted the urge to protect foreign workers through tougher legislation.

The following year, the International Labor Organization (ILO), along with FENASOL, asked the Lebanese government to sign the Domestic Workers Convention and Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention. “Although Lebanon voted in favor of it, it never signed it,” Castro Abdallah, president of FENASOL, told Al-Monitor.

“The government passed the matter on to parliament, but there was never a meeting to answer the case, so it remains postponed. In 2013, in coordination with ILO, we started some programs with migrant workers to build a syndicate. In December 2014, six of them officially asked the labor minister to authorize the creation of the union, a question that remains unanswered.” One major problem is the Kafala system, by which each domestic worker arrives in Lebanon under a sponsor's family, although “this is not even mentioned in the law,” Abdallah said.

The Bangladeshi ambassador to Lebanon told the Daily Star that as for the workers' respective embassies, it seems that they face issues while dealing with the Lebanese authorities when it comes to the workers' rights. Other embassies, such as the Ethiopian one, end up suing for abuse. The Philippine government also issued a law prohibiting employment agencies and employers from charging recruitment fees and making them liable for payment of wages and provision of benefits.

However, the matter is pretty urgent, as stated in a report issued by Kafa in 2014, based on interviews with 100 women from Bangladesh and Nepal. “Most of them didn't have any information on the tasks, the salaries and even the working hours,” Maya Ammar, Kafa's communications officer, said. “They are then very vulnerable, which is for us a case of human trafficking.”

The association joined the cause quickly, giving the migrants space and tools to find a solution, and also supported Nari, a community of Nepalese female activists. “The domestic workers created a network through community events, and the message spread to those who are not allowed to leave their employer's house,” Ammar said.

She added, “But they are still very dependent on their employers, who control every aspect of their life. The problem is mostly based on the sponsorship system that puts the Lebanese families in charge before the authorities of their employee's actions, without mentioning the corruption of the recruitment agencies, the financial investment they engage in and profits they aim to realize. In this situation, the families are often scared that something goes wrong, so they are tough.”

For Ammar, the solution would come “from a stricter surveillance of the [recruitment] agencies, because a legalized relationship would help a lot.” But this is limited because, according to her, “you cannot get rid of racism and abuse against women that easily."

Meanwhile, FENASOL and the union fought and managed to close 12 recruitment agencies that had been the subject of complaints from clients and domestic workers. In only three months, more than 300 women joined the union, but there is still a lot to do. Malika Begum, from Bangladesh, killed herself on March 19 at the house she was working in, after her wish to return home was denied.


FLORENCE MASSENA
Contributor, Lebanon Pulse

Florence Massena is a journalist based in Beirut who writes about economic, cultural and social matters. She studied political science and journalism in Toulouse, southern France, and has traveled in the region since 2010. She mainly focuses on heritage and women's issues, as well as positive ideas for Lebanon.



Read more: Lebanese domestic workers to unionize - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Lebanese domestic workers to unionize - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
 
HalaMadrid

HalaMadrid

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Is it finally the end of this inhumanity?
 
HalaMadrid

HalaMadrid

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Well, most of them have left anyway! So it's a bit too late.
And too little. There will still be a substantial handful of the ultra rich with foreign maids and for them this contract may keep them from the indentured servitude prison they're currently relegated to.
 
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