Mesewat’s Target group are Domestic Migrant workers in Lebanon
There are more than 250,000 domestic migrant workers in Lebanon. They come from developing countries like Ethiopia, Sir Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines Cameroon, Senegal etc. Most of these workers are not educated and they come from a very poor background. They come to Lebanon to earn a living and support their families back home, and some of them are married and have kids in their country. They live in Beirut, Hammera, Jebele, Dawera, Anteliyas, Neba and Belate.
Their age group is between 16 to 50 years. The income level of domestic migrant workers is based on their nationality. Filipinos get 400 USD per month, Ethiopians get 150 USD whereas Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Indians get 100 USD per month, they all do the same kind of work but the salary is different because of racism. According to Human Rights Watch, 75% of domestic migrant workers are unpaid or underpaid. Most of them are religious and a majority of them follows Christianity and some of them follow Islam.
The main place of socialization is church because the sponsor has control over everything else they do and they are not allowed to go for shopping or to other places of entertainment. Some of them are confined to home. So most of them connect with other workers through Whatsapp and that is one of their main consolations. They have heavy workload, no off days and are often deprived of food. A lot of them undergo physical, emotional and mental abuse by the employer or his family members. All this is happening behind closed doors.
They experience social isolation from the local community since they can’t speak the local language Arabic and their profession is considered inferior.
Genet Bekele 24 year old Ethiopian lady came to Lebanon in 2011 as a domestic worker. After 7 months she requested a leave from her madam to go back home because she discover she is 7 month pregnant. This happened because she didn’t know she was pregnant before coming to Lebanon. Her madam was filled with anger, Genet was badly beaten. After this she felt sick and her madam gave her drug. Instead iof recovering she got more sick. Her baby died in her stomach because of the drug her madam gave her. Her madam went to report to the police she killed the baby by taking drug. The police took Genet without asking her any question and locked her up. This happened in 2011 and till now she’s still locked up in the prison. I visited her but she has lost her mind. She can’t remember even her family name. Genet is traumatized by losing her pregnancy and been locked up in jail.
This is just the case story of one migrant worker. Many of workers are in prison for over 4 years without committing any crime and there is no one to support them and help them leave the country.