07 Jan 2014 05:00
Migrant workers in Lebanon have little protection under current labor laws, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. Many of Lebanon’s estimated 200,000 domestic workers who come to the country for work often face extremely challenging living and working conditions. The Human Rights Watch estimated that in 2008, an average of one domestic worker died in Lebanon per week. Most of these deaths are a result of suicides or attempts to escape their employers. Even when they manage to escape, once their contract is broken, they no longer have identification documents and can end up in an even more deplorable situation.
But despite the challenges and dire situations for a majority of migrant domestic workers, some of them done incredible things in Lebanon with their personal strength and the support of their network in the country. Women like Rahel Zegeye, who is a domestic worker by day and a filmmaker/artist by night, or Rahel Abebe, who started a catering service for Ethiopian food in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut, and was Lebanon's first migrant worker to have a lawsuit filed on her behalf against discrimination, are some of the women who have come the Middle East as migrant workers and thrived.
Photos by Omar Alkalouti
Text by Melissa Tabeek