At least 200,000 thousand women are migrant (domestic) workers in Lebanon. Why? In order to escape poverty and get money to support their family, women have come to Lebanon. But, women are now in a “different type of jail”( as described by one migrant worker). According to statistics, one migrant worker per week is dying in Lebanon. Reportedly, workers are taking their own life in order to escape from their employer.
At the airport, women have to hand over their passport to their employer. From that moment on, these domestic workers are ‘slaves’ to their employer. Women enter into their employer’s household and may never leave. Instead of having a day off or being able to leave the house, women are subjected to sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse, and may not even receive their salary.
One woman, who wants to remain secret because of her overwhelming fear of her safety, has spoke out about her experience. She stated that her employer was sexual harassing her and when his wife found out about his advances he beat them both. This is just one of the tragic stories. This woman is one of the lucky ones who escaped her employer and now is living in a safe house. Since 1994, safe houses were set up in Lebanon to provide help specifically for migrant workers.
Countries such as the Philippines have responded to this situation by banning their citizens from going to Lebanon as migrant workers. While the Lebanon government claims that their labor law will be improved, at this time there is no real protection for migrant workers. Yet, in 2009 employers must follow new standard contracts when hiring migrant workers. But, the procedures fail to provide adequate protection for migrant workers. Instead, women are not being paid on time and can remain inside the house from the day they arrive. Without procedures set forth by the government, employers have not and may never give their workers human rights.
These are real victims and not just allegations. Watch the video below for first hand accounts of the situation in Lebanon.
What can the international community do to stop this? Would you consider this slavery? Will international pressure stop these practices?