Monday, March 23, 2015

Housekeeper tragedies are stark consequence of Lebanese laissez-faire

But can we really blame anyone for offering a discount on staff when virtually the whole country has embraced a culture that is tantamount to slavery?

Furthermore, a very shameful culture of segregation has evolved and at no time is it better demonstrated than during the summer months. When Lebanon’s beach clubs operate a door policy that would not have been out of place in apartheid South Africa.

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Like most pressing social issues in Lebanon – the smoking ban and various failed driving laws spring to mind – everyone knows what the problems are, but no one with any real influence has done anything to ensure they achieve any “grip”, and this includes how we treat migrant workers. The maid trade is big business after all, with plenty of opportunity for kickbacks and bribes.

But the tragic stories of those who clearly don’t have a voice continue to surface in spite of the first registered domestic workers’ union being created in January.

Last week, while the Lebanese social networks were buzzing with bleeding heart indignation, yet another maid committed suicide – it happens far too often – this time in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Melika Begum was found hanged in her bedroom at her employer’s home. She had initially asked to return home to Sri Lanka after confessing she missed her children, but presumably her employers refused.

I hope we all had a happy Mother’s Day.

Full piece on The National

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