Lebanon

Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse in Lebanon

I recently received an email from a reader, Ali, about the pitiful state of Lebanese labor laws. He agreed to let me publish it as a commentary.

*

There is a troubling issue which I feel is not getting enough coverage or condemnation: the issue of foreign domestic worker abuse in Lebanon. I don’t know anyone who grew up in Lebanon who hasn’t seen (or doesn’t know of) a maid who was beaten or was being abused at the neighbour’s place, if not in their own home. I remember when I was a kid I used to watch our neighbor from our balcony going on a rampage, beating, and shouting at her maid like a maniac for hours (or so it seemed to me). When the police were called, they would say to the woman, “Please keep it down,” and “Ma bi-seer heik, haram” and then leave. In a week’s time, the same story would start all over again. I know that even in our house, our maid got a couple of proper slaps. The explanation was always: “Sometimes that is the only way she understands.”

When I was growing up I used to hear stories that the maid jumped off the balcony from beit il mawlawi, or that several maids had run away from certain houses. For some reason, nobody used to find these reports abnormal or appalling. We wouldn’t even read about them in the news, which would also make you think that these were just rumors. I was lucky enough to move out from Lebanon at a young age to study and this issue never crossed my mind again.

Then, during my last visit to Lebanon, I found out that we had a new maid from Ethiopia. After asking my dad about her (since our family had always had maids from Sri Lanka) he said that Sri Lanka doesn’t allow their citizens to work in Lebanon any more as maids. It turns out that the Philippines is considering a similar step. After some thought, I became so ashamed of myself that I belong to a country where we as a people acceptingly abuse these workers to the extent that a foreign government can’t protect its citizens by resorting to our judicial system, but needs to stop them from coming as a solution. No one else seems to be ashamed of this fact: not the press, nor the people, nor the government.

Of course we do have rare exceptions when we do prosecute someone, maybe because the case was very strong: the maid was beaten in the embassy itself! But what about all the others? What about the ones who “fall off” balconies?

I hope that this topic would be of some interest to you and that you would write about it at some point. I feel that this issue should be discussed more and awareness should be raised. This abuse should not be accepted as an everyday thing. I personally feel deeply ashamed that this thing is happening among members of the educated middle class, who I believe are the mirror and true face of a country.

Kind regards and wishing you a happy new year,

Ali
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Discussion

35 thoughts on “Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse in Lebanon

  1. I recently came across this website.

    http://www.migrant-rights.org/

    And an archive of Lebanon-related abuses…

    http://www.migrant-rights.org/category/news/lebanon/

    Posted by Won | January 10, 2010, 1:04 am
  2. Thanks Ali and Elias for shedding light on the suffering of foreign (Asian) domestic workers in Lebanon. I heard the situation is the same in the Gulf States and elsewhere in the Middle East.

    It reminded me of the way Egyptians sometimes reply when they feel you are trying to fool them “Do you think I’m Indian?” or “Why did you see me parking an elephant outside”?

    Everyone needs to feel superior, sometimes, it seems.

    Posted by Alex | January 10, 2010, 1:38 am
  3. I disagree on the title: unfortunately, nothing is NEW in women’s slavery…
    That being said, if you click on that terrible picture (that add has been on the right side going down Speers street for a long time), you will find a very informative document. In the audio link, it is explained what I think is the core cause of the tragic situation of many foreign women working in Lebanon.
    The document is long, and I didn’t take the time to listen carefully. But it talks about one of the main reasons why employers feel right about having complete control of the lives of the woman that works for them. In short, the employers protect the money invested (up to 3000 dollars paid to the agency, it seems) by confining the workers behind closed doors, and keeping their passports and traveling documents. That’s why the women can’t simply stop working, or leave the house for another employment; they are tied to their situation. Getting out of it entails necessarily “escaping”, going to the unknown, to illegality. They are actually in situation of legal slavery, and their fate depends on the decisions that the employer will take in everything that concerns the migrant worker: how many hours will she work (very difficult to assess, when the worker is permanently on call), how far she can go from the house without one of the “masters” being around, will she have access to free food when the employers are not home, will she have a day off, will she have a decent place to live, rest, and sleep (this sounds almost tragicomic when considering how bad the above can get, but some women do apparently sleep on mattresses on kitchen floors), will she be treated with respect. And surely the fact that the law makes them minor and dependent helps it to the fact that, in the best of the pictures, they get more paternalistic condescendence than proper respect…

    Posted by mj | January 10, 2010, 6:12 am
  4. This is a form of slavery, kind of “supported” by the Legislation – that tends to ignore the rights of foreign workers in the country – and “sponsored” by Lebanon’s fawda culture. It is needed to pressure both government and public opinion in order to compel’em to act against these forms of basic human rights violations, on one hand, and to change the sick mentality of the criminals (including the snobish madames) who do torture these foreign workers, on the other hand. Also, it is necessary to warn would-be foreign workers about the dangers they potentially face in Lebanon. This could be done with campaigns to be run in their countries of origin. It’s a shame that Lebanon’s image is being tarnished by such a despicable, inhuman and criminal behaviour of part of its population (as if we don’t have enough trouble with “our” muharrabin and erhabiyin). Bahdali ya ‘ammi…

    Posted by Voice From Brazil | January 10, 2010, 6:55 am
  5. It is time now for the Lebanese society to take a careful look at how the whole thing is organized. The first suspects are indeed the employment agencies, which the critics of the system assimilate to human traffickers. The second, the society in its entirety which is taking advantage, directly or indirectly, of the situation.
    The first thing to do is to have a decent labor law that regulates the professional relation between employer and employee. That law, being a necessary condition for improvement, won’t change by itself and automatically the treatment that domestic workers get. The whole society needs to undertake a 180 degrees change.
    But in my opinion, putting blame and shame on the Lebanese is not going to help in a situation that deals with relations secluded in the walls of private homes. The employers always react in the defensive, arguing that “they” treat “their” “house help” like their daughter, etc. And indeed many maids have days off, or work free lance, are paid what they were promised and are treated with respect.
    The level of abuse(and perfect impunity for it) in many other cases is so gross that it allows lots of room for caricature and name calling. Nevertheless, I thing taking an accusative and inquisitorial stance is not going to help a lot. I would rather go for a campaign that caresses the Lebanese ego “dans le sens du poil”, calling for the modern and civilized that every Lebanese thinks he is deep down, and asking him, her, to put themselves in the place of the other (like a campaign did recently).
    Maybe soon people who think of themselves as socialist, or revolutionary, or leftist will extend their ideology and apply it in their own homes, towards the people that feed and dress and clean them, and their own children. Maybe one day, faithful Lebanese Christians will be remained of their duties of fraternity and charity (yap, that terrible word)by the Patriarch, convinced Muslims will hear from muftis and ayatollahs that their religion makes all persons free and equal.. Maybe soon a reality TV show will be done where the audience actually sees who does the actual work inside families and institutions that allows them to function, and in what conditions they live… maybe. And by the way, the first political party that actually does something public and real about it, signing with its name under the campaign, will earn a lot of respect from my part.

    Posted by mj | January 10, 2010, 7:13 am
  6. A few years ago at the Beirut Documentary Festival they showed an excellent film called “Bonne a Vendre” about exactly this topic. It was excellent, got a standing ovation, and they even did a special, (I believe) free showing a few days later in the morning for maids to come and watch.

    In my opinion, nothing anyone in Lebanon says along the lines of “we must defend the glorious nation” or “THEY are always out to get us” or whatever is meaningless and completely hypocritical. We as a country and a people don’t deserve to be treated any better than we treat the lowest class of people in our country.

    Posted by PB | January 10, 2010, 7:59 am
  7. Thanks for posting this Elias, and thanks to Ali for sharing.

    I wonder whether the problem can be solved with a mere change of labor laws, in Lebanon or elsewhere. It is just as bad in Syria, where abuse of domestic help is common (whether the maid is a foreigner or a Syrian). We haven’t even opened up the subject of child labor, and little girls working in households are being treated just as badly, as if the crime of practically enslaving a minor (on the pretext that “we’re helping her get an education” or “she’s better off with us than in her village” and other justifications of the type) wasn’t enough.

    Labor laws will not change the attitude of people, and the elites in our region get away with a lot. I can’t imagine the police facing one of these elites and forcing them to stop, or dragging them to the station.

    For the time being, it’s a good thing we’re hearing more about this abominable behavior, if only to shame the bastards who think abuse is allowed. Like everyone, I’m just waiting for this to become a cause for those who can really make a difference.

    Posted by Rime | January 10, 2010, 7:59 am
  8. I think Alex #2 has it right. There seems to be the need to feel superior and to abuse others. What better target than the helpless females who look different, have no place to go and do not speak the language, in most cases.

    This is not an easy problem to solve because it appears to be entrenched in our psyche. Whenevr I have had this discussion with my fellow Lebanese, many professional I might add, they often answer with the popular Al Mutanabi poem La Tashtari Al Abda ….

    The least that should be done is to offer these domestics and they do number around 100,000 , as well as all workers protection by the law. But we must also keep in mind that to pass a law is one thing and to enforce it equitably is another.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 10, 2010, 10:58 am
  9. PB,
    I remember a line from that movie that made me nauseous. One chic Lebanese lady was being interviewed as she waited at the airport for her new maid. At one point, she spoke of her previous maid, from Togo if I remember, and said something along the lines of: “We treated her so well, like a member of the family. When she came to us, she was like a dog, no manners, nothing. By the time she left us, I had taught her everything she knew, she had become a proper girl.” (une fille bien)

    I had never been so ashamed of being Lebanese in my life. What is needed is not only an overhaul of the labour laws, but a national education program to change the condescending attitude Lebanese have towards “maids” and countries that export “maids”. And also to find a way to phase out this idea that having a maid is a status symbol.

    I’m not one to oppose foreign investment, but I have also always wondered, why does Lebanon even need 100,000 indentured slaves? why can’t Lebanese take on these jobs? Is it so horrendous and such an abasement for a Lebanese to become a nanny or a housekeeper? or work for Sukleen? I think part of the attitude change should focus on convincing Lebanese that they can take up these jobs without it being an total embarassment to themselves, their families and their country.

    Posted by Blackstar | January 10, 2010, 1:10 pm
  10. This is a shame on the country. Maybe requiring classes about how to treat these workers decently before the “madames” are allowed to employ any forign maid might help.

    Besides, as others have said. Why do these “sittet byout” need house help? why can’t they do thier own house work, like the majority of the world (along with husbands pitching in).

    Glad this subject is being raised in some news stories, but more awareness is needed.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | January 10, 2010, 1:35 pm
  11. How silly of you people… if there were no slaves-maids in Lebanon, min berabee lewlaid?
    And how are they going to find time for Ahwee wel kwafeur 3al sob7iyee wel argilee ba3d el dohor wel sharmata 3nd 3ashiyee
    It rhymes!!

    Posted by V | January 10, 2010, 2:42 pm
  12. V

    You crack me up. There’s a job opening at the Qnion; any interest? :)

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 10, 2010, 2:47 pm
  13. Blackstar,
    I don’t understand how “having a maid” is still considered a “status symbol” when most of the lower middle class households “have” one.
    I mean the phenomenon has become so widespread that when you see a “madame” with a “maid”, you no longer assume anything about her social status. So that’s not really a major issue in my opinion.

    Posted by Jennifer | January 10, 2010, 4:18 pm
  14. check out this blog which deals with domestic workers in lebanon:

    http://www.ethiopiansuicides.blogspot.com/

    Posted by zj | January 10, 2010, 5:00 pm
  15. Jennifer,
    Its popularity is precisely proof of its success as a status symbol. Anyone who pretends to be someone HAS to have a maid. Not having a maid is considered to be outside of minimum social norms.
    It’s like the lavish Lebanese weddings. Unless you want to be labelled as “poor”, you must have an extravagant wedding. You can’t entertain the idea of NOT to have one, for fear of being considered lower class.

    Posted by Blackstar | January 10, 2010, 5:53 pm
  16. I really dislike the fact that this question must be asked, but why is chauvinism/racism so prevalent in so many Arab societies? Am I generalizing? It seems that the moment there is an increase in living standards or wages in an Arab society, citizens rush out and start importing maids. They view them as cattle, and treat them accordingly. Is it that they learned from the old money elites in their respective societies? Is it a result of the history of the region? Or is it simply human nature and being blown out of proportion?

    Posted by ali | January 10, 2010, 6:33 pm
  17. I’m in!! Thanx QN, finally I got that coveted job :)
    Eat your heart out Ghassan lol

    Posted by V | January 10, 2010, 6:38 pm
  18. zj,

    That is a very impressive blog!

    Posted by Ali | January 10, 2010, 6:44 pm
  19. We need a Qnion special undercover report about el Madame and her srilankiyyi.

    Posted by Blackstar | January 10, 2010, 7:08 pm
  20. V,
    Do you know what happened to Bad?:-) I am curious.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 10, 2010, 7:53 pm
  21. QN, Alex ,
    How are things in Syria,
    President assad just signed a neww law which seem to prevent human traficking ,

    الرئيس الأسد يصدر مرسوما تشريعيا يتعلق بجرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص الاخبار المحلية

    أصدر الرئيس بشار الأسد يوم الأحد مرسوما تشريعيا يتعلق بجرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص يتضمن تحديد عقوبات مرتكبي هذه الجرائم وإحداث إدارة متخصصة بمكافحتها.

    وحدد المرسوم التشريعي رقم (3) لعام 2010 العقوبات بحق “أي من يرتكب جريمة من جرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص أو يشارك أو يحرض أو يتدخل فيها أو يعلم بها ولا يبلغ عنها أو من ينضم إلى جماعة إجرامية هدفها أو من بين أهدافها الاتجار بالأشخاص”.

    وكان مجلس الوزراء اقر أواخر كانون الأول الماضي مشروع القانون المتضمن مكافحة الاتجار بالأشخاص وحماية ضحايا الاتجار وخاصة من النساء والأطفال ومساعدتهم وتقديم الرعاية لهم وذلك في إطار تعزيز التعاون الدولي في منع جرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص ومواجهة مرتكبيها

    ونص المرسوم على “إحداث دور لرعاية ضحايا الاتجار بالأشخاص تتبع لوزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل إضافة إلى إحداث إدارة متخصصة بمكافحة جرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص في وزارة الداخلية”.

    ويهدف المرسوم إلى منع ومكافحة الاتجار بالأشخاص وإيلاء اهتمام خاص للنساء والأطفال ضحايا هذه الجرائم.

    ويعد مفهوم الاتجار بالبشر مفهوما واسع الدلالات ويشمل مواضيع كثيرة مثل الخدمة المنزلية وأعمال السخرة والرق وبيع الأعضاء البشرية والاستغلال الجنسي للمرأة وبيع الأطفال وغيرها من صور الجريمة المنظمة أو المستحدثة.

    ولا توجد في سورية إحصائيات عن جرائم الاتجار بالأشخاص إلا أن مصادر رسمية في وزارة الداخلية قالت في وقت سابق إن انتشار هذه الجرائم في سورية لا يزال غير ملحوظ ما يسهل قطع الطريق عليها ومنع ظهورها نهائيا عن طريق التشدد وتطبيق العقوبات الرادعة بحق المروجين لها.

    ويعد الاتجار بالأشخاص أكبر تجارة غير شرعية في العالم, حيث تقدر منظمة العمل الدولية أرباح استغلال النساء، والأطفال جنسياً بحوالي 28 مليار دولار سنوياً، كما تقدر أرباح العمالة الإجبارية بحوالي 32 مليار دولار سنوياً.

    وأشارت منظمة العمل الدولية إلى أن 3 ملايين إنسان في العالم سنويا يتعرضون للاتجار بهم بينهم 1.2 مليون طفل، وينقل ما يتراوح بين 45 ألفا و50 ألفا من الضحايا إلى الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية سنويا.

    Posted by norman | January 10, 2010, 8:49 pm
  22. Ali,
    It is not blown out of proportion. On the contrary, it’s shocking that this huge problem doesn’t attract more attention. I completely share your outrage. These labourers have become a sort of invisible under-caste. They are spoken to and treated like they are children. When you hear Lebanese people speak about their maids, there’s an ingrained sense of cultural (and racial) superiority that never fails to send chills down my spine.

    What I find utterly ridiculous, is how some of the Lebanese women think of their supervising and ordering the maid as being a tiring household chore.
    One situation that annoys me to no end, is when the madame has houseguests, and the maid does all the cooking, making the coffee etc., but when the official “itfaddalou” moment arrives, the madame takes complete credit for everything the maid actually prepared! Do the work yourself lady.

    Posted by Blackstar | January 10, 2010, 8:57 pm
  23. Ghassan,

    V for Vulcan here :)

    Bad Vilbel? no idea havent seen since the AK revolution died

    Posted by V | January 10, 2010, 9:20 pm
  24. This attitude is certainly not limited to the treatment of domestic workers in Lebanon and other parts of the Arab world. It manifests itself in racism based on color and nationality, against Africans, Asians and especially other Arabs.

    Posted by ali | January 10, 2010, 9:35 pm
  25. I understand that not one of the guys and gals participating in this thread is the offspring of a middle class Lebanese couple?

    Posted by mj | January 11, 2010, 2:32 am
  26. So all this boils to: Why can’t Lebanese women do the housework like every other woman in the world and shut up (“along with husbands pitching in”Really? Pitching in? Are you an Arab, son of an Arab)? Is this the point where this conversation is leading?
    Blackstar, I’m afraid a “Qnion special undercover report about el Madame and her srilankiyyi” has chances to reflect a very sick relation between two sick women: one wretched by homesickness, non-understanding of the language, or the way of live, tormented by loneliness and isolation. Contrary to gross mistreatment and physical and/or sexual abuse, which is common but not necessarily general, the feeling of isolation and complete dependence from the employer’s wims affects every one of them.

    The other woman in the picture will also be sick and she will typically pour the anger and frustration of her second class person status over an easy target. (I’m assuming that this Qnion piece will happen in a situation of abuse, since this is the topic). Getting ready to go have arguile with the neighbor or to work in the bank or teach in the school, the reasons she hires somebody to do the dirty work for her is that her husband, her mother in law, her own mother, her own sons and her own daughters consider her responsible for doing the whole work generated by her family in their house. Actually, she considers HERSELF responsible for that big apartment that must look always perfect, with a living room looking like a picture, with no traces of human beings having ever smoked, breathe, eat, walk or seat in it. Her personal honor and social value is on stake. But it takes somebody being constantly dedicated to that. Shop, clean, cook, feed, clean again, wash, iron, fold…etc. Not to mention children (nobody touched on the subject of the kind of influence this system relying on foreign maids had on the education of Arab youngsters yet), who need constant presence and dedication. Why wouldn’t she “take” somebody to do part of it, when is (for some, relatively) cheap and with practically no strings attached? Nobody I know in this world does any “dirty” job when he can pay somebody to do it instead! When abuse is permitted there is abuse. Stop putting the blame on the women who don’t do worse than men when put in the same situation. Lebanese middle and upper class women are the only fair game here? What about the sexual abuse, which is commonly alluded to? Is that also due to some rare social gene that affects Lebanese men in particular?
    So ok, for a Qnion special undercover report about “el Madame and her srilankiyyi”, under the condition there is at least one man in it, and he speaks one third of the lines…

    Posted by mj | January 11, 2010, 4:59 am
  27. mj,
    “The Lady protesteth too much, methinks”.
    So your explanation rises above those of others simply because you think that “when abuse is permitted there is abuse”.
    Yes the government must legislate against the mistreatment of labourers but one has the right to expect that decent civilised human beings will not physically mistreat the less privileged. That is a sign of sickness, a charachter flaw by the abuser.
    The abuse is obviously by both the master of the house and his mistress. They “own” the house help and ownership has its privileges. Again that is the sign of a mental sickness. Please do not confuse the natural tendency not to pay for a product or service above its going rate and physical abuse. I can understand the rationale for hiring domestic help when the going rate is about $250.00 a month but there is no excuse whatsoever for anyone to mistreat that poor employee who is already being exploited monetarily.
    And yes when sexual abuse becomes a widespread phenomenon then we need to look for the real cause, the cultural one.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 11, 2010, 10:45 am
  28. Ghassan Karam,
    My explanation didn’t mean to rise above those to anyone else’s. I didn’t like the way the conversation was turning, which was in my opinion the easiest one: put the blame on the Lebanese woman with her bourgeois, classist and racist manners. I said that caricaturing the characters involved in the drama is much too easy, and does not help to understand the way it works, less does it help to find the beginning of a solution. “One has the right to expect that decent civilised human beings will not physically mistreat the less privileged”, indeed, but everyone is somebody’s underdog, and shit is passed from one to another. “That is a sign of sickness, a character flaw by the abuser”. Yes. Because there is sickness –social, personal- in what’s happening, I said that when abuse is permitted, and not sanctioned by law, the judicial system must look for stopping it in the first place. But that abuse is also tolerated and silenced by the society, that’s why I proposed the other forms of action that encourage social awareness. If the domestic workers had a compulsory day off, for example, the employer would not be able to exert the complete physical control of their movements that happens today in many cases. That would put an end to their isolation, and they could look for help outside in case of distress, seek the help of others, and enter in defense associations. If the employer didn’t have the right to confiscate their passports, they would not be able to keep them prisoners of a contract, however unjust, that is not being respected, etc. The fact that they factually own the destiny of the employee puts the fate of the later in the hands of their good will, which sometimes is there, and others is not.
    But beyond that, I wanted to highlight the responsibility of the large part of society that has no problem taking advantage of the exploitation going on. I wanted to put the finger on everyone obtaining comfort from the situation, not just the ma’m of the house, who appeared to be signaled as the principal or sole profiteer.

    Posted by mj | January 11, 2010, 4:11 pm
  29. mj,
    No one here is criticizing the practice of hiring help. If you can afford to, and the help is available, then by all means go ahead.
    What I have issues with is the lack of rights afforded to the hired help, and the idea that certain “undesirable” jobs can only be filled by migrant workers from what are perceived as being inferior cultures.
    The combination of thesetwo factors creates an environment whereby employers believe they are allowed to do whatever they please to their maids because there are no laws to hold them accountable. And because of the ethnic make-up of these relationships, it reinforces cultural and racist misconceptions about the countries maids come from. Read, as an example, this recent account from one of the Now Lebanon reporters: http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=137727

    I can also refer you to the recent news story Ali mentioned in his post above, about a “madame” who was jailed for beating up her Filipina maid. Some point to this story as proof that the Lebanese authorities are taking action. But consider the following:

    1) The abuse had been taking place for over a year “in private”, but the prosecution was only possible after the employer beat her maid in public inside an embassy. This is indicative of how difficult, if not impossible, it owuld have been for a Lebanese court to convict a Lebanese employer on the basis solely of the maid’s account.

    2) Despite a long period of abuse (including the aggravate assault which took place at the embassy and allegedly left the maid so weakened she could barely stand up), the employer only got 15 days in prison.

    3) This is what is most shocking: the aggressor’s name was not made public. One of the hallmarks of any mature criminal justice system, is that a trial will be public, not only to ensure fairness and due process toward the defendent, but also to show that criminals are being held accountable, and their names are publicized. In this case, the “madame” succeeded in having her criminal behaviour remain sealed, perhaps forever. And in a perfect irony, instead of protecting the victim, this conviction, despite the minimal punishment, ended up protecting the criminal’s privacy.

    Posted by Blackstar | January 11, 2010, 4:22 pm
  30. Blackstar,
    I’m ok with everything you said. I think I made myself clear in my answer to GK. I’m just trying to go beyond the caricature and enlarge the picture, that’s all. I also think that human beings are pretty much the same wherever they are.And I believe Lebanon has earned the ugly portrait the media is depicting by the appalling behavior of its people and government in the matter discussed. The fact that other Arabs don’t do much better when put in the same circumstances is not a source of relief. Neither it is the reality that entire societies and nations owe in many ways their comfortable life, and the possibility of intellectual development, among others, to sheer exploitation of children, women, and men in other countries.

    Posted by mj | January 11, 2010, 5:01 pm
  31. I believe we all agree on almost everything said about the subject of foreign worker abuse and enslavement in Lebanon. This injustice that is perpetrated by men and women equally, shames us all and it is a reflection of our hypocrisy and lack of values as a society and as a nation.

    Another subject that I wish it would be discussed and uncovered is consumer protection or lack of in Lebanon. In light of the latest discovery of frighteningly high levels of dangerous pesticides in Lebanese produce, some countries have banned our fruits and vegetables from entering their markets.
    The scope of corruption in this and other consumer products such as food and medicine in Lebanon is just amazing and in my opinion constitutes a much bigger threat to the Lebanese people than the illusionary threats they like to dwell on.

    Posted by V | January 11, 2010, 11:17 pm
  32. Hi there.
    Actually, to correct Ali, the Philippines has banned its citizens from working in Lebanon since 2007, though they still come illegally- often recruited by unscrupulous agencies who don’t tell them about the ban or what to expect abroad.

    This is a topic that I personally write a lot about and it’s heartening to see the issue of migrant exploitation finally getting the attention it deserves. Only last week I saw the body of a Filipina, 28-year old Theresa Seda, who had jumped seven floors from her employers apartment in Sanayeh.

    We as individuals have to stop simply shaking our heads and actually do something about what happens around us.

    Posted by Dalila Mahdawi | January 13, 2010, 6:02 pm
  33. Great post. This is a very important issue that does not get enough attention by activists/journalists/general population in the region.

    Just one note, the post says that the Philippines are considering a similar step (of banning maids from Lebanon), but the Philippines banned their workers from coming to Lebanon in July 2006. They are actually now thinking of lifting the ban (http://www.migrant-rights.org/2009/12/31/philippines-to-lift-ban-on-sending-workers-to-lebanon/).

    Posted by Fatima | January 15, 2010, 4:31 pm
  34. http://arabism-islamism.webs.com

    The twin fascisms that causes most massacres, wars, “conflicts” today:

    Arabism is racism (Arab racism)
    Millions upon Millions are/became victims of Arabism which is the worst current form of racism in its gigantic proportions, like: Kurds Jews (not just in Israel…) Berbers (the real natives of North Africa), Africans (noty just in the genocide in the Sudan & in Egypt on native Nubians by Arab invaders – till today), Persians, etc.

    Islamism is bigotry (Islamofascism)!
    The Islamic supremacy that “works” towards its vision of “final Islamic domination on the entire planet”, from Middle east to Africa from Asia to Eurabia, from terrorism & massacres in multiple countries (like: Thailand, Phillipines, China, Indonesia, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon India, USA, France, Israel, Russia, UK, etc.) to propaganda,

    Let’s face it! that entire war on Israel & the Jews since the 1920’s by their facsist Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini who started the “genocide campaign” [and continues by the children/grand children of Arab immigrants into Israel - Palestine - now convenienently called "palestinians"] in a clear outlined declaration to ‘kill all Jews’, is nothing but out of pure Arab Muslim bigotry.

    Posted by algee | January 31, 2010, 2:53 pm
  35. Yes there is a human trafficking/modern slavery issue in Most countries today. But I don’t think all the Lebanese or the Arabs who import maids are heart less. There are good ones just the same way there are the bad ones. I have mate an Arab women who took her maid to USA to have a knee replacement (which is a very expensive procedure) and later on unfortunately when that same maid got diagnosed with breast cancer, took her back to the states so she can get the best treatment. I told the women that how much I appreciated her and she said “it is nothing compare to what she has done to me. She took care of my kids!” . since speaking with her I have changed my attitude towards the “Arab employers”. I have been a made once (for a long time) I have been used and abused. I put the blame all on the employment agencies. They gave me false promises and they fail to provide me with an outlet in case of any problem. I could have died and no one would have know. I was cut of for the outside world. I have lived in the situation until one day God opened up the door for me unexpectedly. I don’t blame my employers for mistreating me, because I know that they don’t know any better. Human right does not exist. I think the government of the employers should implement a law to protect migrant works. And I believe the Government of the employees/workers should regulate the so cold agencies.

    Posted by selam | January 31, 2010, 4:29 pm

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