Thursday, September 29, 2011

Domestic workers in Lebanon

"“We wanted a safe, migrant-friendly place where migrants can simply meet and use the space as their office and headquarters to organize themselves with the help of Lebanese activists,” said Ali Fakhry, a spokesman for the Anti-Racism Movement, the Lebanese group of social activists responsible for funding the Migrant House.  The ambition is to create an independent center where migrant workers can meet and organize in a country where foreigners are barred from unions and syndicates. The Migrant House will not only be open to migrant domestic workers — an almost exclusively female group — but also to migrant workers who are men, many of whom come to Lebanon to work as laborers.  To end abuses though, headway needs to be made in changing the mindsets of some in the Lebanese population toward domestic workers in a country where many refer to them as Sri Lankans no matter where they are from and negative stereotypes and prejudices still prevail.  “It is very hard to change their mentality,” said Priya Subedi, coordinator of the Migrant House, herself a former domestic worker from Nepal. “Even if they are educated — even lawyers and doctors — the girls in these houses are mistreated.”"   The article and headline are misleading: while there are efforts by brave people, like comrade Ali cited above and other organizations, the state and the rest of society don't care.