Monday, January 25, 2010

The 'Slaves' of Lebanon

Embedded in that awful story about the crash of an Ethiopian airliner that had just taken off from Beirut is another awful story--Ethiopian women who come to Lebanon to work as servants and are treated abominably by their employers. From the Guardian:
...Many of the Ethiopians killed in the crash were also economic migrants, but in the reverse direction – young women who left homes and families to travel to Lebanon to work as domestic helpers in the homes of wealthy Lebanese.
Many are treated as little more than slaves, human rights activists claim. In many cases servants go unpaid, are confined indoors and made to work long hours seven days a week. Some are beaten and even sometimes raped.
"Why do you Lebanese never treat us good?" screamed one Ethiopian woman as security forces prevented her from entering the governmental hospital in Beirut today to identify a body. "We are human beings like you. God created us. Why don't I have the right to come in and see my sister?"
Outside the hospital a group of Ethiopian women stood quietly in a corner, waiting for news of friends on the flight – young women like the friend they knew as Warkey, who arrived in Lebanon to work for a family in Nabatiyeh,
"She had worked for two years and her family had not paid her salary once," said one of Warkey's friends, who asked not to be named. "She even had to buy her own clothes. So she ran away and I took her in. But she said she missed her parents so much and had to go home. She was only 20.

"We went to the embassy and they did not help. Because she had run away and did not have any papers, she ended up being arrested and put in prison," she said, her dark brown eyes welling up with tears.
"They let her out of prison on Saturday and drove her to the airport, so she could take that flight."
Truly disgusting. Surely a good reason to boycott, divest from and sanction Lebanon, no? (Just kidding. Everyone knows only one nation in the world is rotten enough to deserve such treatment.)

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