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December 03rd, 2018

Kafala legalizes slavery across Lebanon. Share the victims’ stories

type:Campaign, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Over the past few decades, abuse of domestic workers in Lebanon has become endemic. This is apparently the result of a Lebanese sponsorship program known as Kafala, according to which foreign nationals may come to Lebanon as domestic workers as long as they remain with the family that initially sponsored them; should they leave the household assigned to them, their status will be revoked.

In an increasing number of cases, domestic workers have reported unimaginable abuse suffered at the hands of their hosting families. Cases of abuse include withholding (often temporarily) payments, beating, humiliation, and sexual violence. In cases where migrants attempted to escape their abusive captors they often found themselves in limbo- without legal status or employment opportunities. Migrants who wished to return to their home countries through their respective embassies found themselves unable to do so since issuing a visa that would allow them to leave Lebanon would require paying hundreds of dollars in fines to the Lebanese government for violating their status (a sum of money that many of them simply don’t have available).

Kafala, though legal and widely used across the Gulf states as well as in Lebanon and Jordan, has been criticized internationally for its harsh restrictions; some have, accurately, referred to it as a gateway to slavery.

While the termination of Kafala may still be far off in the future, a growing number of individuals and organizations have taken it upon themselves to draw attention to the plight of domestic workers suffering at the hands of abusive hosting families and unable to help themselves due to the limitations of the Kafala system.

This Is Lebanon is an NGO committed to spreading testimonies of abused Kafala workers from across Lebanon. The organization publishes the harrowing tales of workers as well as the names and information of abusive patrons. This Is Lebanon’s content has been shared by prominent news agencies and human rights groups around the world.

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering abuse as a Kafala worker, or if you wish to acquaint yourself with the plight of domestic workers in the region and help spread the message- consult This Is Lebanon’s website.

Image credit: This Is Lebanon website. 

thisislebanon.org