Friday, March 16, 2012

The Daily Star Editorial: Real racism

The Daily Star, March 16, 2012
LBC’s broadcast shows the Ethiopian woman being pushed into a car by Mahfouz and another accomplice.

The tragic case of Ethiopian migrant worker Alem Dechasa, who committed suicide this week, has once again shone light on the shameful neglect of basic human rights in Lebanon.
Dechasa was seen being beaten and forced into a car by a Lebanese man, in footage released last week. She killed herself Wednesday morning
while undergoing psychiatric treatment in hospital, and her embassy is now pressing charges against the man, who was last week arrested before being released without charge.
The world community does not judge a country on its scenery and its culinary excellence alone, and the Lebanese people, who are so rightly proud of their nation and its history, must now confront the fact that racism in this country is real, and has serious, tangible effects.
There are an estimated 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon today: people who have come here to do menial work which the Lebanese don’t want to do, in order to send money back home and provide a better life for their families.
As a people, the Lebanese should be the first to realize the necessity of emigration, with millions of them having left this country over the last few years to seek a better life and to help their relatives back home.
The appalling treatment of migrant workers in this country, and the corrupt and archaic systems which govern their labor conditions, are now increasingly discussed in Lebanese media and society, but the time for talking is over.
Lebanon is not alone in the region in its shameful record of treating migrant domestic workers as some sort of underclass, but the issue has become a complete blight on our nation, and fully negates any positive statement made about the country’s respect for human rights and dignity.
And while undoubtedly the kafala, or sponsorship system, which excludes domestic workers from the standard Labor Law, needs to be overhauled, Lebanon also requires an eradication of the attitudes which lead to such racist practices.
The Lebanese people, who pride themselves on their often progressive attitudes, their civilization and their education, have got to confront this disease, and fast: in politics, in society, in the media and on the streets.
If this doesn’t happen soon, why should the rest of the world believe claims that Lebanon respects human rights, when a whole group of people are being continually treated as modern-day slaves?
That several countries have literally banned their nationals from working in Lebanon should be a reminder of the stark reality of the situation, and this country’s standing internationally.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 16, 2012, on page 7.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for posting this - it is indeed a horrific situation. migrant workers from ethiopia working in lebanon present the gross epidemic of abuse caused by the power inequalities between the global north and south. as a result, as is often the case, it is the women that suffer the abuse, mistreatment, exploitation and harsh conditions just to provide financially to their families back home.

    in trying to find a way to provide support/help - what is it that we can do? how can we support these women? if you know of any particular organization please do post the information.