Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day Parade Speech

Friends and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the migrant domestic workers’ community, I would like to welcome all of you to this workers’ day celebration. This day is a celebration for all the workers in the world. All, with no exception - every nationality, every profession.
Unfortunately, many could not join us here today. Not because they didn’t want to, but because a system says that someone else can forbid them from leaving the house, which means that many do not get a single day off.
This system also deprives migrant domestic workers of their right to quit or change their job and to move and travel freely. This system punishes migrant domestic workers just because of their profession.
And what is our profession? We help families keep their houses in order. We take care of their children, and love them as our own. And yes we do dangerous and tiresome chores. We understand that it’s part of our job, and our job is to help. And we understand that some people fear having a stranger in their house.
But we don’t understand how they think this system is the solution. This system that takes away some of our basic human and labor rights and creates an unhealthy and dangerous relationship between employer and employee. This system is called the kafala system, and it is bad for everyone. It is even bad for the image of Lebanon.
Friends and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have been in this country for over x years. I have met so many friends from all over the world. I can see many of them are here today. I care about my colleagues and my friends and I care about this country. That is one more reason for me, for all of us, to seek the replacement of the kafala system with another that upholds our rights and lets us do our jobs in a healthy environment.
Some of you will say that this is a losing battle, or that it is not in our hands. But, there are also those of you who know right from wrong, and cannot sit silent when they see injustice.
Fifteen years ago, no one was thinking about changing the kafala system, most people didn’t even know what it was. Look where we are today. Domestic workers, Lebanese and international organizations, trade unions, and activists, have come together to demand change! The road is still long, but seeing how much we have accomplished so far only gives us a sign:
That our hope is growing and that justice will prevail.
Thank you

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