Monday, May 30, 2011

Elementary School Students in Lebanon Tackle Abuse of Domestic Workers

Below is an interview M-R conducted with a group of elementary school students from Lebanon who chose to focus on human rights of domestic workers in their class project. For their research, the children interviewed maids about the abuse they suffer and sought to understand the causes of this abuse. The level of understanding of these children about the abuse of domestic workers and its causes is quite extraordinary; As they themselves pointed out, the level of awareness about this problem isn’t high in Lebanese society.

M-R: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Our names are Dima, Manuella and Tala. We go to International College (school) in Ras Beirut, Lebanon. We are 11/12 years old.

M-R: Could you tell us a little bit about the project you did for school about human rights of housemaids in Lebanon?
Last year in school, we had an exhibition, and we could pick our topic freely. All three of us were interested in making our project revolve around human rights, more specifically, maid rights. We interviewed maids outside of our school, collected information from the computer (mostly from this site). And from our results we noticed the lack of care for the maids and how much they were missing out on their rights.

M-R: Why did you pick this subject for your project?
We picked this topic because it was different… Unique. We thought that it was an uncommon topic that people were not paying attention to. We wanted to open their eyes to the fact that all of us need to have equal rights… But no one really cares about the rights of the maids.

M-R: What was the reaction at school to your project? What do your parents think about it?
We noticed that people at school enjoyed our project and were interested in it. When they asked us what our project was about, and we told them, we felt that they always had an enthusiastic look on their face to find out what kind of research we had done. Our parents were very happy that we took interest in a topic like this, and tried to help out on other peoples’ rights. They were open to help us with whatever they knew, and whatever they had noticed about the rights of maids.

M-R: Why do you think so many maids are abused in Lebanon?
We think that maids are abused in Lebanon because of racism and lack of care. We also think that when someone has a maid in their house, they consider him/her as THEIR maid, and they think that they can do whatever they want with him/her.

M-R: What can Lebanese people do to improve the conditions of migrant domestic workers in their country?
People in Lebanon can take action to make a law against abusing maids and guaranteeing their rights. They can also simply not abuse the maids and respect their rights. If everybody cared for the rights of maids, no maid would be abused. Also, people can make other people more aware of how the maids may feel, and that MAY impact them a bit (or a lot).

M-R: Do you think many people in Lebanon are aware of this issue? What would you like people in Lebanon to know about the rights of migrant domestic workers?
We don’t think that many people in Lebanon are aware of this issue because many maids are being abused (based on our research). We would like people to know that the maids are not their slaves, and there is never any reason to be racist. They should know how the maids feel, and they should picture themselves in the maids’ shoes.

M-R: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
To add, the maids’ abuses are so bad that some maids are committing suicide (which we know from this website), which means that people not only need to be aware, but they need to TAKE ACTION TO MAKE EVERYTHING OKAY.

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