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The modern slaves serving in the households of Lebanon

The optimism of Abitew respect of the negotiations contrasts with the pessimism that expressed a decade ago by his predecessor Asaminew Bonssa. “There is nothin

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The modern slaves serving in the households of Lebanon

The optimism of Abitew respect of the negotiations contrasts with the pessimism that expressed a decade ago by his predecessor Asaminew Bonssa. “There is nothing we can do to protect our nationals, so we have imposed a ban on travel to Lebanon,” lamented the then-consul in Beirut. In 2008, Bonssa stood on two ethiopians killed per week in Lebanon. While the legal situation of these women has changed little or nothing, it has dramatically reduced the number of deaths. The merit is of the wide network of support created by the own migrants, many without papers, that thanks to the support of local NGOS and to the invaluable help that represent social networks offer an escape to the mistreated by their bosses.

“The case of Meriem is one of book,” says Inu as through the streets of a modest neighborhood of Beirut. This twenty-year-old arrived in the lebanese capital two years ago to work as a house maid. Now he has a job of social worker (without papers) at the Center for the Migrant Community in Lebanon. This NGO was founded by feminists and activists against racism in 2011, in full maelstrom of the arab Spring. Their goal: to help the undocumented immigrants who work in domestic jobs. Women as Meriem, who has served 19 years old and since two months ago, is a fugitive. Without tears or drama, he tells of the six months of abuse and mistreatment that he suffered since he left the suburbs of Addis Ababa, the ethiopian capital, to land in the bosom of a lebanese family with three children in the northern city of Tripoli.

His body seems to be a map of mistreatment. He points to his head to remember the day that madame ─as it is commonly referred to the employing lebanese─ opened a gap to bash her with a chair “because the small is not finished mashed potatoes”. Then rolls up his sleeves the jersey to discover a dark scar in the back, legacy of the coach (the lord) who decided one day to bite you the back up to make it bleed. He came to Lebanon as they arrive all: with the mediation of the agencies. “The dalala [local intermediary] cobra the girls (in Ethiopia) and to the agencies of lebanon by recruiting young people in the villages ethiopians,” he explains in Beirut-Samaya Mattouk, of the NGO lebanese Kafa.

Without a passport and without a contract

no more land in Beirut, an employee of the agency had his passport seized, with the connivance of the immigration services lebanese, as happens 85% of the women that come up with the same plans, according to a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Meriem signed a contract for 218 euros a month for six days of work per week. He was not given a copy. Half of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon do not have a single day free, according to the cited report.

A group of migrant workers requires in Beirut a day free a week in one of the first demonstrations organized by activists in 2008. N. SANCHA

“it Is very difficult to protect the rights of these workers because they are excluded from the labour code of lebanon by article 7”, also warns in Beirut Mariela Acuña, coordinator for the middle East of the International Federation of domestic Workers. In the event of a dispute with the employing lebanese, they may resort to the civil courts, but issued decisions temporary. Your second option is the Penal Code of lebanon, although the resolution of the verdict takes years and very few migrants embark on the process.

“In Lebanon do not consider us human beings, we are the outcasts”, says an ethiopian woman who lives in this small country in the middle East

At the international level, Lebanon has not ratified the convention 189 of the International Labour Organization. The only regulatory framework available is the unique model of contract that Lebanon adopted in 2009 after intense lobbying by NGOS. “It is still insufficient and ambiguous by allowing employers to lebanese to maintain the bad practices and abuses,” says Lala Arabian, manager of the NGO Insan. In the absence of regulation, domestic workers, migrants are subject to the kafala system (sponsorship) and legally Tipobet linked to their sponsor lebanese. The abuses and even crimes of the madames are legally unpunished and socially these are considered to be masters of their servants.

A common practice in the middle East

Meriem is part of the anonymous mass of modern slaves more and more numerous to serve in the middle East. There are 11.5 million domestic migrants in the world, according to the International Labour Organization, of which about a third work in this region (3.16 million).

Lebanon have traveled 250,000 to serve a population of 4.5 million inhabitants. This small country has become a busy migratory corridor where the domestic workers are relegated to a second plane. The 1.5 million syrian refugees that it hosts Lebanon, top the international agenda. The progressive economic collapse along with the fulminant bleeding human that represents the brain drain, lebanese cup the national. Few speak of these women.

“Today, we are organized, so that we activate the network quickly and help to escape to the companions battered before the thing ends in suicide or murder,” says Ra. Meriam fled a Sunday at six in the morning when you took out the trash. Two months ago, that two fellow countrymen, also runaways, welcome on your floor. Rub the thirties, and like many of his generation, came to Lebanon to be able to feed and educate the children they left behind in the slums of Addis Ababa. “In Lebanon do not consider us human beings, we are the outcasts”, he sums up with anger one of them.

The generation of Meriam represents the new migrants leave in search of a life they have known through the social networks. “I came here because I wanted to and not for my family,” says Meriam. “On Facebook, I always saw these girls ethiopian so elegant, dressed in clothes beautiful. I wanted to be like them.” At age 18, was assigned to the dalala of your neighborhood. His story ends in broken dreams, judging by the gray sweatshirt dotted with lamps that combines with an old hat of brown wool. “On Facebook seemed very happy,” replies shrugging his shoulders in an attempt to quell the peals of laughter from their veteran companions.

The agencies that profit from the migrants ethiopian

In Lebanon there are 560 agencies that recruit migrant domestic workers, of which 300 are part of Soral, the trade union that leads the lebanese Ali el Amin, who figure the business “hundreds of millions of euros per year.” Ensures that each year the union sends to the lebanese Government a list of 20 to 30 agencies who "exploit useddas" and who charge a sum of between around 1,750 and 2,600 euros to each employer by the worker. In many cases retain migrant workers two months of salary as expenses of management. The web page This is Lebanon is in charge of publicly exposing employers to lebanese who commit abuses. A very common practice that knows no class or confessions, and that in 85% of cases, is inflicted by women.

Since the end of the lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), women migrant domestic workers came to replace the employed syrian and lebanese served as a domestic in the homes. 33,000 in 1993 are estimated to be between 250,000 and 300,000 today in Lebanon, according to a report from the International Labour Organization in Lebanon (ILO, for its acronym in English). After 24 years working in Beirut, the philippines Desalinates, 45, is a key cog in the gear of the networks of migrant workers. Some are organized by ethnic groups and their representatives come to the umbrella of the lebanese syndicate Fenasol. Others, participate in initiatives transcomunitarias led by the own migrants such as the red Alliance that Desalt is a member.

The philippines were the first to arrive to Lebanon, and today they have a solid support network that discourages the recruitment agencies and more abusive, as explained by this woman. Now the ethiopians have become the new philippines. Monthly salaries in Lebanon respond to a dynamic xenophobic, with commensurate salaries to the tonality of the skin of the workers. In this way, the ethiopians with less education and of darker complexions charge between 130 and 260 euros per month, while the philippines between 260 and 435.

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