All the migrant workers in Lebanon are fully dependent on the sponsorship system which denies them basic human rights. As per the International Labor Organization, there are 250,000 domestic migrant workers, mostly women in the age group of 16 to 50 years in Lebanon. However, since many domestic workers are illegal migrants, their details are not documented and there are no definitive statistics on the overall number of domestic migrants workers currently present in Lebanon. Most of these workers come from the developing countries like Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines, and India etc. Most of these workers are not educated and they come from a very poor background.
They come to Lebanon through the sponsorship system called Kafala where the employer has full control over the employee during the entire period of stay in the country. The Kafala system gives supreme power to the sponsor over the workers from the time they land in the airport. They take all the legal documents of the employees in including the passport. Basic human rights denied and exploit them. No governmental policy to protect migrant workers and there is high racial discrimination.
No protection from the government and no place to stay as such they face high risk. They can’t go back to their country and police treat them badly, this causes girls to die weekly. Migrant workers can’t stand up for own rights and is physical, sexual and mental abuse. They are not allowed to contact family or even contact with embassy. Imagine not less than two migrant workers die every week. Many are put in prison without any reason; they stay there for years without anyone opening their files. When migrant workers go hospitals for checkup, the doctors use that opportunity to abuse them and there are even cases where doctors remove a kidney of a girl to be sold.
Mesewat is a non-governmental, non-religious, non-racial and non-profit solidarity network that supports migrant workers in Lebanon and the Middle East.